Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order earlier this month to ban all flavored e-cigarette products outside of tobacco-flavored e-cigs has turned out to be a preview of far-reaching action at the federal level. The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it will take steps to remove from the market all unauthorized non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes.
“We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a Food and Drug Administration news release regarding the FDA's regulatory plans on unauthorized flavored e-cigs.
The FDA has come under fire from some advocacy groups for what has been seen as a slow response to the proliferation of e-cigarette products that appeal to young people. Attention to this issue has intensified with publication of National Youth Tobacco Survey results showing that more than one-quarter of high school students were past-month users of e-cigarettes.
Whitmer's executive order created a flurry of opinion, with the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation calling it a “bold and courageous action” to remove “enticingly flavored, sleek and heavily marketed devices” and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association calling it a “shortsighted and dangerous response to teen use of vapor products and the current health crisis arising from tainted street products.”
The latter comment refers to the current investigation into more than 450 cases of serious lung injury and six deaths associated with use of vaping products, for which federal authorities have not yet pinpointed a cause.