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Other Opinion: Good move by Trump on vaping

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A strong reaction comes from the White House as vaping-related illnesses continue to dominate the news.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for a ban of flavored e-cigarettes. The president and members of his administration say the flavored concoctions used in the devices are being marketed to kids, leading to a startling rate of young users nationwide. We agree.

After seeing the statistics on teen use and also after checking the names of the products available on various websites, it’s difficult to say – at least without a wink and an elbow nudge – that children aren’t being targeted. One website sells dozens of flavors, including “Candy Rush,” “Peachy Rings,” “Candy Watermelon,” “Hard Candy” and “Sour Apple Gum.”

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, there was a 78% increase in teen vaping nationwide last year. Those statistics are startling, but at least the data is prompting action.

A number of e-cigarette users, mostly teenagers, have been hospitalized nationwide in recent weeks with some sort of serious lung illness. According to The Washington Post, there have been more than 450 cases, including six deaths, linked to vaping.

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While e-cigarettes increasingly have long been a focus of anti-smoking groups, the mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses have prompted a more focused view in recent weeks.

Wednesday, the president – noting children are dying – said vaping “is very dangerous.”

“We can’t allow people to get sick and we can’t have our youth be so affected,” he said.

It’s good that the president is taking a stance, since his reaction could help bring needed action on the devices.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan to remove most e-cigarettes from the market. If the policy goes into effect, the devices will not be allowed back on the market until getting specific approval from the FDA, according to the Post.

It's not necessarily a done deal, however. Nobody really knows what exactly is causing the lung illnesses. Is it the flavorings? The chemicals in the liquid nicotine? Or possibly modifications made by the consumers themselves?

Whatever the cause, e-cigarettes could be headed for much tighter oversight.

“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

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This move will come with the requisite controversy and social debate. Some adults – who legally can purchase the products and may use them at their own risk – like the candy and fruit flavors. We have seen several adults quoted by news outlets, saying they should be able to use the products.

Nonetheless, we believe the president and the FDA have made a prudent move. As statistics show a steady rise in e-cigarette use among youth and as hospitals continue to deal with teen lung illnesses and deaths, something needs to be done.

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