President Trump told reporters Friday raising the legal age to purchase electronic cigarettes nationally, likely to 21, will be part of a much-anticipated rule on flavored vaping products to be announced next week.
The legal age for vaping now varies by state with many allowing it at 18 and more increasing it to 21.
“We’re going to be coming out with a very important position on vaping,” said Trump. “We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21, or so.”
Trump and other administration officials have been lobbied heavily by the vaping industry. A rally is planned for Saturday across from the White House.
“We have a lot of people to look at, including jobs, frankly, because you know it’s become a pretty big industry but we’re going to take care of…,” said Trump.
E-cigarette use among high school students more than doubled from 2017 to 2019 to 27.5%. About 5.3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes this year, up from 3.6 million in 2018.
The Administration’s action comes amid a national outbreak of vaping-related lung injures, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports as of Tuesday have sickened 2,051 and resulted in 39 confirmed deaths.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, applauded raising the legal purchasing age.
“It appears President Trump is wisely preparing to enact smart regulations rather than embracing the losing politics of prohibition,” Conley said. “Raising the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products to 21 puts the industry on a similar footing with other adult industries like alcohol and marijuana.”
The CDC has not identified a cause for the lung injury outbreak beyond the connection between e-cigarette and vaping products, however most of the samples tested so far by the FDA contain THC, the compound in marijuana that produces a “high.” Findings suggest THC products purchased off the street or from illegal dealers are linked to most cases, according to the CDC.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.