F.D.A. Plans to Ban Most E-Cigarette Flavors but Menthol


The new restrictions on flavors will not extend to THC-vaping products, which are mainly regulated by states that have legalized marijuana.

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, had announced in September after meeting Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, that the F.D.A. would draft a ban on almost all e-cigarette flavors, including mint and menthol. At the time, Mr. Azar said those two flavors appeared to be popular with teenagers, especially since Juul had pulled its fruit and dessert flavors from shelves.

A more recent survey found mint was far more popular than menthol with teenagers, but public health experts say that teenagers will switch to menthol — which creates a cooling sensation — if all other flavors, including mint and mango, are taken off the market.

Juul, the nation’s largest seller of e-cigarettes, has been the target of public and regulatory scrutiny over whether it marketed its products to lure teenagers and young adults to use them. Several investigations are underway into its sales and promotion practices.

Some states have already imposed flavor bans, though some of those efforts have been forestalled because of legal challenges waged by the vaping industry and its tobacco company partners.

In anticipation of a national ban, Juul had taken most of its flavors off the market. Until recently, mint-flavored products made up about 70 percent of its sales; menthol was 10 percent; and tobacco flavors accounted for 20 percent. Juul and Altria, the tobacco giant that bought a 35 percent stake in Juul last year, said they did not oppose the federal regulation of flavors.

Reynolds American, which manufactures the Vuse e-cigarette, sought to exempt menthol and mint flavors from a ban, and the Vapor Technology Association, a trade group, has pressed to keep most flavors on the market.


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