The Trump administration will ban flavored e-cigarette pods, with exceptions for menthol and tobacco flavors

Business

An employee picks up a Juul Labs device kit for a customer at a store in San Francisco.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Trump administration will ban flavored e-cigarette pods, with the exception of menthol and tobacco flavors, and flavored liquid nicotine products commonly sold in vape shops, a senior administration official told CNBC.

The administration is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday, the official said, cautioning that nothing is definite until the announcement has been made.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter, followed by reports from the Washington Post and New York Times.

The decision comes to an industry that has been on edge since September. President Donald Trump first suggested a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes earlier this year, but later retreated from that position.

In the interim, Trump has heard feedback from vaping industry executives, public health advocates and small business owners worried about the impact flavored vaping ban may have on their business. The exemption for products sold in vaping shops is likely to ease those concerns ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

Small business owners and advocates cheered the news on Twitter Tuesday night.

“When the ban was announced on 9/11, we had little hope of actually stopping it, but vapers and small businesses pushed back and refused to give up,” tweeted American Vaping Association president President Gregory Conley.

“I can’t see this as a win because the closed cartridge ban will cause more smoking, but open system vapers should be happy tonight,” Conley said.

The news may have a limited impact on vaping industry leader Juul, which, under intense scrutiny, has already halted the sale of its flavors in the U.S., aside from menthol, Virginia tobacco and classic tobacco. Juul’s fruity flavored products, which it marketed as smoking-cessation devices, helped lead to explosive growth in teens that has concerned regulators.

But the decision will likely put a closer spotlight on Altria‘s decision to shell out $12.8 billion investment for a stake in the vaping company, in hopes of capturing a slice of its once explosive growth.

Altria, like its rivals PMI Group, Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, has faced waning sales as smokers are dying, quitting or switching to e-cigarettes.

A report from National Institutes of Health’s annual Monitoring the Future survey earlier this month said that 14% of high school seniors said they vaped marijuana in the previous month, nearly double the rate from 2018.

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