WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.

Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.

have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have
an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White

Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.

A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.

officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing
virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are
blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.

no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the
administration is backing away from its original plan.

Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.

talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking
about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,”
Trump said.

Underage vaping has reached what health officials call
epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school
students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.

Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.

On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.

With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.

Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.

and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support a federal “Tobacco
21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco
products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress,
including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is
clear: most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from
older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the
supply of those products in U.S. schools.

Delaying access to
cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits,
with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer
deaths due to tobacco over several decades.

Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes.

By Matthew Perrone

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