Several healthcare provider groups are blasting the Trump administration’s recent action to address an epidemic of deaths from vaping products, concerned that it doesn’t do enough to halt the problem.
The Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 2 announced a partial ban on e-cigarette flavors like mint and fruit that they say appeal to children. Advocacy groups such as the American Medical Association called the restriction a step in the right direction, but fall short of previous promises to prohibit all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette products. Since the outbreak started last year, 55 individuals have died and another 2,500-plus have been sickened by e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in late December.
EVALI has been of keen interest to radiologists, who are on the frontlines diagnosing this emerging condition.
“The Trump administration plan on flavored e-cigarettes falls far short of what is needed to protect the health of our nation’s youth,” American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement, a sentiment echoed by the AMA, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Cancer Society, among others. “Keeping menthol-flavored Juul and thousands of flavors of e-cigarettes sold in vape shops on the market will continue to addict kids. The American Lung Association is sad to see an industry-supported approach take precedence over our kids’ lung health.”
An estimated 5.3 million middle and high school children currently use vaping products, the Academy of Pediatrics noted, and increasing frequency of that use indicates that dependence is growing among adolescents. "We are in the midst of a public health emergency. E-cigarettes risk addicting an entire generation of young people to nicotine," added Sally Goza, MD, president of the AAP.
Providers are urging Congress, state and local governments to take immediate action to close any loopholes and eliminate all flavored tobacco products. In the meantime, they’re warning consumers to steer clear of any vaping devices.
Federal officials shared the first bit of good news in months on the EVALI epidemic in December, noting that new cases appear to be on the decline. They also recently confirmed strong linkages between the additive vitamin E acetate and such lung disease.
The Trump administration’s recent reversal came following fierce opposition from the vaping industry and free market conservative groups, the Hill reported.