US health officials will begin cracking down on most flavored e-cigarettes that are popular with underage teenagers, but their plan includes major exceptions that benefit vaping manufacturers, retailers and adults who use the nicotine-delivery devices. The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will prohibit fruit, candy, mint and dessert flavors from small, cartridge-based e-cigarettes favored by high school and middle school students. But menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes will be allowed to remain on the market, the AP reports. The targeted flavor ban will entirely exempt large, tank-based vaping devices, which are primarily sold in vape shops that cater to adult smokers. Together, the two exemptions represent a significant retreat from President Trump's original plan announced four months ago, which would have banned all vaping flavors — including menthol — from all types of e-cigarettes.
The new policy will spare a significant portion of the multibillion-dollar vaping market. And the changes mark a major victory for vape shop owners who sell the tank-based systems, which allow users to mix customized nicotine flavors. Vape shop owners expressed relief, and anti-tobacco advocates immediately condemned the decision to permit menthol and exempt tank-based vapes, accusing the administration of caving to pressure. "It's disturbing to see the results of industry lobbying to undermine public health protections, especially the lives and health of our youth," said the head of the American Lung Association. That and other health groups argue that teenagers who vape will simply shift to menthol if it remains on the market. The American Cancer Society called the decision to not ban all flavored e-cigarettes "unconscionable," per CNN.
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