President Donald Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar hosted a meeting at the White House on Friday to discuss the Administration’s policy on flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Attendees at the meeting included stakeholders on all sides of the issue, including NACS Chairman Henry Armour, Juul Labs CEO K.C. Crosthwaite, Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association and Matt Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“Well, this is a very big subject, and it’s a very complex subject,” said Trump, according to the White House transcript. “Probably a little bit less complex than some people think. But I’m here to listen, and I have very divergent views.”
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed draft guidance on e-cigarettes that would effectively ban stores that allow children to enter, such as convenience stores, from selling most flavored e-cigarettes, while allowing adult-only stores, such as vape shops, to continue selling the products.
In September, Trump said he would ban ENDS, with the exception of the tobacco flavor. Since then, he has said he may consider a solution that would allow certain flavors to stay on the market.
Vapor Technology Association’s Abboud told CNN that one point of agreement among the participants, including Trump, was the idea of raising the age limit to purchase vaping products to 21.
“There was unanimity in the room that the age to vape and smoke should be raised to 21,” he said.
After the meeting, NACS’s Armour provided his perspective:
“I appreciate President Trump bringing stakeholders together today to discuss the best path forward on vaping policy. The convenience industry shares his concern with youth vaping and spends millions of dollars every year to help prevent underage consumers from obtaining these products. There are more than 153,000 convenience stores across the nation, including 95,000 single-store operators. I shared with the President our industry’s view that any policy in this area should advance our health goals, be based on data and apply equally across the economy in order to be effective. We hope and trust the Administration will follow those basic principles.”
The Trump Administration is expected to finalize its policy on ENDS in the coming weeks.
At the end of the meeting, according to the White House transcript, Trump was asked if his “initial instinct” in September has changed, to which he responded, “We’re going to be announcing very soon. We did have an instinct, but we’ll be announcing.”
When asked which way he’s currently leaning on the issue, he said, “It’s going to be very interesting. We’ll let you know pretty soon.”