Social conservatives press Trump to keep ban on mint, menthol e-cigs

Social conservatives press Trump to keep ban on mint, menthol e-cigs
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Social conservatives are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE’s administration to not back away from plans to include mint and menthol flavors in a ban on flavored vaping products.

The leaders of Eagle Forum and the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) former director of faith engagement, along with others, sent Trump a letter Wednesday expressing concern over a recent report that the Trump administration was reconsidering banning mint and menthol products amid pressure from e-cigarette advocates.

They argue that the administration cannot “claim to be fighting the youth vaping epidemic” while leaving out these favors and urge Trump “not to back down in the face of pressure from Big Tobacco,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill. The letter cites recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data showing that almost 64 percent of high school students who vape use mint or menthol flavors.

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The letter is signed by Chad Connelly, president of Faith Wins and the former RNC director of faith engagement; Eagle Forum President Eunie Smith as well as its chairman, Anne Schafly Cori; Faith and Freedom Coalition former executive director Gary Marx; and a number of others.

“We are troubled by recent news that e-cigarette giants have been lobbying HHS and FDA to carve out mint and menthol flavors from the ban. It is no secret that these companies want mint and menthol to remain on convenience store shelves, as the lion’s share of their revenue, comes from these flavors,” the letter reads, referring to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The letter singles out Juul in particular, citing a New York Post report stating the company generates $2.3 billion in sales from its mint e-cigarette pods.

Juul has said it will not lobby against the ban, though the company increased its spending on lobbying this year and has brought on a number of former White House officials.

“We can’t claim to be fighting the youth vaping epidemic while simultaneously protecting the favors most abused by young people,” the letter reads.

“It seems these companies have somehow convinced some within HHS and FDA to consider preserving the mint and menthol flavors that get young people hooked,” the letter continues. “We humbly ask that you stand up to these special interests and keep mint and menthol out of our children’s hands.” 

Asked about the letter Thursday, the White House said Trump directed the FDA “to take action to protect the public health of children” but did not address specific plans for mint and menthol flavors.

“As the president tweeted, ‘While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!’” said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere, citing a Sept. 13 tweet from Trump.

The Trump administration last month announced plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes as part of its effort to stem vaping among children. The announcement also followed an outbreak of vaping-related illnesses and deaths.

The FDA is expected to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks that would remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market. The administration has said the policy would include mint and menthol e-cigarettes.

However, Bloomberg reported last week that the administration was reconsidering planned bans on mint and menthol products.

Broadly, the administration has faced criticism over the planned crackdown from some conservative groups and Republican lawmakers, who have argued that it would be regulatory overreach. And Trump’s campaign manager has reportedly warned Trump that the planned ban could adversely impact his support in the 2020.