President Donald Trump convened a press conference with acting FDA head Ned Sharpless, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and the First Lady to address America’s vaping problems. But in an attempt to tackle both the rash of recent vape-related hospitalizations and deaths, as well as concerns about teen vape use, the president instead proved that he has no clue what he’s talking about when it comes to plumes.
President Trump: "People are dying with vaping, so we're looking at it very closely." pic.twitter.com/4bEdxQwBXH— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 11, 2019
From the start of the meeting, Trump immediately wavered on the tone of his message, and praised the vape industry for making so much money in such a short time. Eventually, the president mentioned both the vape illnesses and the proliferation of teen e-cigarette use. But after using the most vague language possible to express himself, it is hard to believe that Trump truly comprehends the issues he’s addressing.
“A lot of people think vaping is wonderful and great. It’s really not wonderful. That’s one thing I think we can say definitely, Commissioner,” Trump said. “It’s not a wonderful thing. It’s got big problems, and we have to find out the extent of those problems. It’s so new.”
Outside of Trump’s marble-mouthed grandstanding, the press conference was called to allow HHS Secretary Alex Azar to announce new regulations for the sale of flavored e-cigarettes across the country.
Responding to years of criticism arguing that vape companies like Juul use flavored e-juice products to hook teens on nicotine, Azar said that the feds will soon remove all flavored e-cigarette products from retail shelves, pending a strict FDA application process. According to Azar’s plan, tobacco-flavored e-cig products will have to undergo the same FDA scrutiny, but will be allowed to remain in stores during that process.
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Throughout the entire meeting, neither Trump or his two cabinet members mentioned THC vape cartridges or potentially harmful diluents and cutting agents that could be in both cannabis or nicotine vaporizers. In preliminary research into the vape-related hospitalization of nearly 500 Americans and the death of 6 people over the past few months, doctors and researchers have hypothesized that the chemical thickener Vitamin E Acetate could be causing the sickness. In most reported cases, the illness has been tied to tainted black market THC cartridges, and not nicotine e-cigarettes.
And while parents and health advocates have for years argued that flavored e-cigarettes are damaging their teen’s lives, the conflation of teen vapor use and a rash of illnesses that has already killed half a dozen people is both ill-informed and extremely dangerous. With Trump, though, that’s about par for the course.
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