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Trump defended keeping flavored-e-cigarettes legal in a recent White House meeting

(Image from net)

▪ President Donald Trump appeared to soften his position on banning flavored e-cigarettes during a meeting with vaping and tobacco-industry leaders on Friday.

 According to multiple reports, he warned that flavored vapes would "come here illegally" if they are removed from stores.

 Trump announced a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in September. He told reporters that himself and First Lady Melania Trump felt very strongly about the potential effect of vaping on children including their teenager Barron.

 But after pushback from political advisers, Trump stalled the ban on concern that such a policy would alienate some voters ahead of the 2020 elections, The New York Times recently reported.

The Friday meeting at the White House resembled a public policy version of "The Apprentice," during which industry and government representatives occasionally shouted at each other in order to persuade Trump, the Post reported.

Trump showed his support for a pending law that would raise the federal minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21. But health groups argued that the move, dubbed Tobacco 21, would not sufficiently address the rise of teen vaping, according to the Post.

Health advocates also "objected loudly" when some vaping advocates appeared to downplay the prevalence of e-cigarette use among young people, the Post reported. They pointed to federal data that show more than 5 million teens vaped within the last month.

Representatives from e-cigarette makers including NJOY and Reynolds American argued that flavors were not the problem. They put forward alternatives to a ban including ending online sales and limiting ads, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The debate on what to do about vaping is not confined to the White House. On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products including menthol cigarettes. And, the New York City Council is expected to vote on a similar policy next week.

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