Health advocate predicts Trump administration won't follow through on vaping measures

One health advocate is predicting that the Trump administration won’t ultimately follow through on its crackdown to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

Linda Richter, a Director of Policy Research and Analysis at the nonpartisan Center on Addiction, on Monday pointed to a recent Los Angeles Times report that found that Obama-era officials had nixed a similar ban on child-friendly vaping flavors in 2015 because the economic impact at the time outweighed the supposed negative health effects.

“What we’re seeing really is exactly what happened in the Obama administration when they were about to the same, which is parades of Congresspeople and industry lobbyists and consultants coming in and kind of trying to undo that promise because the industry’s financial interests are at risk right now,” Richter said in an appearance on Hill.TV. 

Richter’s comments come as top health officials nationwide continue to grapple with a mysterious illness related to e-cigarettes.

The Center for Disease Control announced last Thursday that the number of vaping-related lung illnesses topped 1,000, and resulted in at least 18 deaths.

In response to the growing epidemic, the Trump administration announced last month that the Food and Drug Administrations plans to “to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.”

But Trump is facing some pushback from members of his own party about the planned crackdown.

Republican Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrAs Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs MORE (R-N.C.) maintained that the action could hurt small businesses.

“We believed that an adult could go in and have the option ... to move from combustible cigarettes to e-cigarettes, and they would have a similar choice [of flavors],” Burr said at a tobacco industry conference last week. “But ... why would we limit a product they have become accustomed to?”

FDA officials, meanwhile, have insisted that it is not banning flavors, but rather enforcing existing law, which would require companies to submit their products for review by the agency.

— Tess Bonn