WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — President Donald Trump says a ban on flavored vaping products will be rolled out this week.
The ban was promised about two months ago amid an outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses across the country. So far, about 2,000 people have been affected and dozens have died.
The vaping industry is in a “state of panic” waiting for the new federal rules, Mike Hogan of vaping trade association Smoke-Free Alternatives said.
“It’s a tough situation for (vape shop owners),” Hogan said. “They started small businesses and they’re going to be put out of business by the government.”
Vaping opponents fear the president won’t keep his promise to ban flavored vaping products, but adult vapers fear he will. Hundreds of vapers protested in Washington over the weekend, saying the products are healthier than smoking.
“I’m not optimistic,” Hogan said. “We’re going to create a prohibition, a problem, a black market.”
But citing the ongoing health crisis, lawmakers say there’s no more time to waste.
“I think we should take swift action,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., said, blaming flavored products for a teen vaping epidemic. “That is something that we don’t need to wait around for more information on. We can take action now.”
She’s holding a hearing with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration Wednesday to learn what more can be done.
“I think these hearings are meant to inform other future policies,” she said.
Trump said that in addition to his flavored vaping products, he’s also looking at raising the smoking age. Hogan said the flavoring ban is the industry’s main concern right now.
“I don’t think there’s any policies worse than what we’re already facing,” he said.
He hopes further research and information can prove the products are a solution that help people quit conventional cigarettes rather than a problem.
Vaping industry leader Juul announced Tuesday it is laying off more than 600 workers. Trump said he is taking the loss of jobs due to regulation into consideration. On Monday, he tweeted that he would met with vaping experts to learn more. Those in the industry said they hope that happens before the new policy is released.