PHOENIX - The Federal Government will act to ban thousands of flavors used in e-cigarettes, President Donald Trump said Wednesday, responding to a recent surge in underage vaping that has alarmed parents, politicians and health authorities nationwide.
Across the country, there are more than 450 cases of respiratory illnesses and six deaths linked to vaping, and investigators believe Vitamin E Acetate may be to blame.
The surprise White House announcement Wednesday could remake the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which has been driven by sales of flavored nicotine formulas such as "grape slushie" and "strawberry cotton candy."
The Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove from the market all e-cigarette flavors except tobacco, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters during an Oval Office appearance with the president, first lady Melania Trump and the acting FDA commissioner, Ned Sharpless.
Trump, whose son Barron is 13 years old, said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be aware of what's happening. "We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected," he said.
Meanwhile, there's some anxiety and confusion in the vaping community, both for those who own stores and those who buy their flavored vape juice. In addition, to say the vaping ban issue is cloudy and unclear is an understatement.
"I think its a lot of misinformation," said one people.
Customers at a vape bar in Phoenix are worried that a ban will impact their favorite flavored juices, which they believe are safe.
"He will regulate some of the e flavored juices, but I hope he doesn't completely all the way back, because it does help people quit smoking," said Lance Fulton.
Some believe those who fell ill with lung disease or even died have used devices or products that were not well known on the market or not designed to be vaped.
Matthew Burger, who runs a vape bar in Central Phoenix, wants the government to focus on what specifically is making people so sick.
"I want them to focus on the stuff that's killing people immediately," said Burger. "I've been vaping for eight years, and I can name hundreds and thousands of customers that have been vaping as long as I have and they're not dying. That's the reality."
Burger's store sells vape juice that they manufacture in a lab, and he is hoping the ban does not impact him. However, Burger says he knows people don't differentiate between electronic cigarettes that will be banned and the vaping devices he sells.