Trump administration looking at raising age to buy e-cigarettes

Jovelle Tamayo  Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal minimum age for purchasing tobacco products is 18, but 18 states and the District of Columbia have set their minimum age at 21.

"These results are unacceptable and that is why we must reset the vapor category in the USA and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, Attorneys General, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use", Crosthwaite said in a statement.

President Trump said Friday that the White House would soon issue a "very important" proposal on vaping that would include an age limit and a possible ban on flavored products. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by US teenagers.

"These products are still getting to kids and we can not let a whole generation get addicted to them through mint and menthol and other flavors", Azar said when the ban was initially proposed in September. But there is little research on their long-term health effects.

Ahead of an expected announcement about the government's plan to restrict e-cigarette flavors in an effort to reduce youth use, e-cigarette market leader Juul has announced that it has stopped selling mint-flavored pods. Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels.

Juul has already halted sales of its mango, creme, and cucumber flavors.

Fruit was the most commonly reported flavor category at 66.1% for high school and 67.7% for middle school, followed by menthol or mint at 57.3% for high school and 31.1% for middle school.

Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support a federal "Tobacco 21" law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products.

The researchers wrote, "The current findings raise uncertainty whether regulations or sales suspensions that exempt mint flavors are optimal strategies for reducing youth e-cigarette use".

The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Juul now says it will stick to selling only Virginia Tobacco, Classic Tobacco and Menthol flavors in the United States. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in USA schools.

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