WASHINGTON D.C. — President Donald Trump said a plan would be released this week involving vaping, including raising the legal age to 21.
"We're going to be coming out with an important position on vaping," Trump said on Nov. 10. "We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we're going to have an age limit of 21 or so, but we'll be coming out with something next week very important on vaping."
The ban was proposed in September during an increase in vaping-related lung illnesses across the country. So far, about 2,000 people have been affected and dozens have died.
"We're coming out with a big paper next week," Trump said.
He did not specify the exact date or time the paper would be released.
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 adults who vape fear he will. Hundreds of people 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 the age limit, he’s also looking at banning vaping flavors. 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.
A ban on flavors would represent a huge blow to the vaping industry, including companies like Juul, which has grown into a multibillion dollar business by selling mint, fruit and dessert flavored-nicotine products.
Trump also said he would be taking a look at all the people involved, including jobs, mentioning that vaping has become a big industry.
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.