US to raise age limit for vaping to 21

A man uses a vape as he walks on Broadway in New York City, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The United States plans to raise the age limit for vaping to 21, President Donald Trump said on Friday, adding that his administration would issue its final report on such products next week.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, did not give further details about the administration’s regulatory plans or give a specific date for any announcements.

US health officials have been sounding the alarm amid a nationwide outbreak of serous lung illnesses linked to vaping, and have raised concerns about the use of electronic smoking devices, particularly among youth.

Trump called on the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration to study the issue in September, and said regulators planned to ban all flavored e-cigarettes.

US Congress is also investigating the industry. Additionally, various US states and localities have cracked down on the products, which have also faced numerous lawsuits.

“We have to take care of our kids most importantly so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” Trump said.

Still, he acknowledged the interests of the vaping industry and said the administration was also weighing the impact of any action on jobs.

“We’re talking about the age, were talking about flavors we’re also talking about keeping people working,” he told reporters.

The use of flavors such as mint and fruit to make vaping more appealing has also faced criticism from public health advocates and others.

On Thursday, e-cigarette maker Juul Labs said it would immediately halt US sales of its mint-flavored nicotine cartridges, after new signs that the mint variety is increasingly popular among teenagers.

Research released this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that mint was by far the most popular flavor among US 10th and 12th grade Juul users, with more than 40% saying it was the most frequently used variety of nicotine pod.

One of the studies also showed Juul e-cigarettes were by far the most popular of any brand used by high school and middle school students, with nearly 60% of high schoolers and 54% of middle schoolers saying Juul was their usual brand.

Juul Chief Executive K.C. Crosthwaite called the results of those studies “unacceptable” in announcing the move.

“We must reset the vapor category in the US and earn the trust of society by working cooperatively with regulators, Attorneys General, public health officials, and other stakeholders to combat underage use,” said Crosthwaite, who took the helm in September after serving as a top executive at Marlboro maker Altria Group, which has a 35% stake in Juul.

Over the last year Juul has scaled back the number of flavors it offers to stave off mounting pressure from regulators over the surging popularity of its products with teenagers.

The company said last year it would pull popular flavors such as mango, cucumber and fruit from retail store shelves in the United States, leaving only tobacco, mint and menthol flavors in traditional retail outlets but still selling others online.

Last month Juul announced it would also stop selling fruit- and dessert-flavored nicotine pods online in the United States.

Juul said on Thursday it will stop selling mint nicotine pods online in the United States immediately, and stop accepting new orders for mint cartridges from retailers. Juul still sells mint and other sweet flavors in international markets.