President Donald Trump announced Friday his administration could raise the vaping age to 21 amid a wave of related illnesses.
“We’re going to be coming out with a very important position on vaping,” Trump said, speaking at the White House. “We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so, so we’ll be coming out with something next week very important on vaping.”
The current legal age for vaping is 18 on a federal level and can vary upward on a state-by-state basis. Still, buyers can often skirt age restrictions if they purchase products online.
The Trump administration in September said it would launch a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes, which critics argue appeal to young adults. It is not fully clear, however, if or when that ban will take effect due to the impact it could have on small businesses.
The Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association estimated there are at least 35,000 vape shops in the United States and a growing number of vape retailers online. The White House has said it is looking for alternatives to curb the use of vaping among Americans.
E-cigarettes, which exploded into popularity in the last few years, have come under a blitz of public scrutiny, as vaping-related illnesses have claimed at least 47 lives and caused more than 2,000 others to become sick across 48 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration called vaping illness an “epidemic” and New York University researchers published the first study linking e-cigarettes to lung cancer.
Many brands have taken the products out of their inventories.
Grocery chain Kroger said in October it would ban the sale of e-cigarette products in its stores. It joined Walmart and Rite Aid, which ended sales early this year. Walgreens also said it would end sales of e-cigarettes and related items.
Vaping apps just went dark in the Apple App Store, too.
Apple said it’s removed any mobile applications from its platform that might enable the use of e-cigarettes and products in response to the vaping-related illnesses and deaths.
The CDC said recently that it reached a breakthrough in linking vaping illness to vitamin E oil, particularly in combination with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.