The White House held a roundtable on vaping with President Donald Trump on Friday, with the discussion focused on whether menthol should be banned along with other flavors. It comes as the number of vaping-related deaths and lung injuries continues to rise. On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed in the US, with more deaths under investigation. The youngest victim was 17.
You can watch the vaping roundtable on CNET sister site CBS News. Also at the discussion were Utah Senator Mitt Romney and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, as well as stakeholders and experts including the American Lung Association.
Several stakeholders spoke about how vaping has caused a generation of children to become addicted to nicotine who otherwise would not have started using it.
Multiple stakeholders agreed with the Trump administration's original suggestion back in September to ban all flavored vaping products. Vaping giant Juul stopped selling mint-flavored products on Nov. 7. In the US, the only flavors Juul now sells are Virginia tobacco, classic tobacco and menthol.
"The flavors have hooked the kids," one said. "Leave tobacco flavor for adults."
The CDC also said Thursday that there were 2,290 cases of vaping-related lung damage as of Nov. 20. These "EVALI" cases have occurred in every state except Alaska. Cases have also been reported in the District of Columbia and two US territories, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. EVALI stands for e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury.
The roundtable follows a Nov. 1 Axios report that the Trump administration was considering a ban on all flavors except for tobacco and menthol, which could be spared because they are less appealing to minors. However, Trump then reportedly backed down from the ban earlier this week; according to The New York Times, he "resisted moving forward" with the ban due to "potential pushback from his supporters."
"President Trump and this administration are committed to responsibly protecting the health of children," Judd Deere, a spokesperson for the White House, told CNET in an emailed statement this week. "At this time, we are in an ongoing rulemaking process, and I will not speculate on the final outcome."
The CDC announced on Nov. 8 that vitamin E acetate could be the cause of vaping-related lung illnesses. Federal health officials said tests conducted on the lung fluid of 29 patients revealed the presence of the substance, which is an additive in some THC-containing products.
Originally published Nov. 22, 1:22 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:45 p.m.: Adds more information.