WASHINGTON - Trump administration officials, alarmed by new data showing a huge jump in e-cigarette use by young people, said they are moving to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, a major development that could result in sweeping changes in the burgeoning e-cigarette market.

In a White House appearance Wednesday that included first lady Melania Trump, Health and Human Services Alex Azar and acting Food and Drug commissioner Ned Sharpless, President Donald Trump said, "We can't allow people to get sick. And we can't have our kids be so affected." He added that the first lady, who has followed reports of the recent spate of lung illnesses linked to vaping and Tuesday tweeted about the dangers of vaping, "feels very, very strongly about it."

Azar, during the White House meeting, told reporters that said the FDA in the next several weeks will finalize a plan that would require the removal of most flavored-e-cigarettes from the market. Under the plan, which would like take effect 30 days after the plan was released, flavored e-cigarette products wouldn't be permitted back on the market until - and if - they received specific approval from the FDA.

The new policy wouldn't affect tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, whose manufacturers would have until May to file for approval.

Matt Myers, president of the anti-tobacco group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the plan is a "long way from the finish line," but he added, "if in fact they pull flavored e-cigarettes from the market it is an extraordinary step in the face of a real crisis." He said flavored e-cigarettes are fueling the a youth-use epidemic, "which apparently has gotten dramatically worse over the last year."

He was referring to new data, announced by the administration Wednesday, that showed that youth vaping jumped in 2019 after rising sharply the year before.

That survey, called the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that more than a quarter of high school students have used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days - up from a little over a fifth in 2018. The overwhelming majority of students said they used fruity or menthol or mint flavors.


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Video: The Trump administration announced Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration intends “to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.”(The Washington Post)