WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump will meet with medical experts, health advocates and industry representatives on the problem of underage vaping later this week, White House officials said Wednesday.
Electronic cigarette use by teenagers has surged, but federal authorities have not yet finalized a plan for regulating e-cigarettes.
At the White House meeting set for Friday, administration officials said Trump will hear from representatives from “all sides” of the vaping issue as he weighs “responsible guidelines.”
The announcement comes days after reports that the president is backing away from a sweeping ban on virtually all e-cigarette flavors proposed in September.
But White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement announcing the meeting: “The policy making process is not stalled — it continues to move forward.”
Under the plan announced two months ago, the Food and Drug Administration would remove fruit, dessert, candy other sweet flavors because of their appeal to teens.
But the ban has faced aggressive pushback from vaping lobbyists and conservative groups who warn it could cost Trump votes in key states.
At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Senators prodded Trump’s nominee to head the FDA on the fate of the flavor ban. Dr. Stephen Hahn said he supports “aggressive action” on underage vaping, but had not discussed specific plans with the president.
E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. more than a decade ago and have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry despite little research on their long-term effects, including whether they can help smokers quit cigarettes.
Still, some health experts say vaping could ultimately benefit public health by steering millions of adult smokers away from traditional smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Vaping opponents argue that those benefits are unproven and that the lack of government regulation has triggered a vaping surge among U.S. teens and children. More than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping in the past month, according to the latest government survey.
On Tuesday, the American Medical Association called for a total ban on all e-cigarettes and vaping products until they can be reviewed by the FDA.
The FDA has repeatedly pushed back its deadline to begin reviewing thousands of vaping products on the market. The deadline is now next May.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this story.
Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP_FDAwriter
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.