Trump administration to announce flavored e-cigarette policy ‘very soon’

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The Trump administration will announce its highly anticipated flavored e-cigarette policy “very soon,” President Donald Trump’s senior counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters Wednesday.

Trump and top health officials on Sept. 11 said the administration was readying a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and would introduce the policy within weeks. Nearly two months later, they have yet to introduce anything.

The administration was widely speculated to announce its plan Tuesday in conjunction with the publication of two studies outlining kids’ appetite for flavors, particularly mint. It wasn’t immediately clear why the announcement was delayed. Conway on Wednesday said it will be made “very soon,” with industry watchers expecting it as early as this week.

“I think the only thing that’s really changed from the First Lady’s initial tweet on Sept. 9 is that the data are much more harrowing and concerning than we would have expected,” Conway said outside the White House. “But the demarkation is really kids and adults. And we’re very focused on abridging the health crisis among kids.”

One study asked teens separately about mint and menthol. The administration initially said it would ban both flavors, though most industry observers expect the administration to exempt menthol, along with tobacco, from any ban.

“The differences between kids and adults, and I think the JAMA made clear, kids report they use mint and other flavors like mango, bubble gum, tooty fruity, unicorn milk, pretty remarkable and that they don’t care for menthol, which of course many smokers, I’m not one to say it, tastes like tobacco,” Conway said Wednesday.

The Department of Health and Human Services sent its proposal to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the end of October. A number of e-cigarette companies and advocates scheduled meetings to discuss the plan with the White House through the end of November.

The White House early Tuesday canceled all scheduled meetings, saying in emails that officials had concluded their review after taking just a handful of meetings. The industry and adults who have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking cigarettes have aggressively lobbied against banning flavors, using the hashtag on social media #WeVapeWeVote.

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