Trump Announces E-Cig Crackdown After 6 Vaping-Related Deaths

On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar told reporters that the Trump administration is preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes after a mysterious lung disease has killed six vape users in the past two months. In an interview about the proposed ban, President Donald Trump pointed to first lady Melania Trump's concern over how vaping affects children.

"That’s how the first lady got involved. She’s got a son — together — that is a beautiful young man and she feels very very strongly about it," Trump said. He noted that "people are dying with vaping. ... It’s really not wonderful … and I hope that parents … I hope they’re going to be able to make wise decisions."

Critics of the ban shared the video, suggesting the ban was inspired by Melania Trump catching her son Barron with a vape. There is no evidence to suggest anything of the sort.

"I was joking about Melania catching Barron with a Juul, but that’s looking more and more like the actual catalyst for this asinine vaping ban," Will Chamberlain, publisher of Human Events, tweeted.

"So Melania definitely caught Barron with a vape, right?" the Daily Caller's Amber Athey asked.

"Trump indicates that his drive against vaping came at the behest of Melania," Vox's Aaron Rupar tweeted. "He then describes his son Barron in a very odd way. 'That's how the First Lady involved. She's got a son -- together -- that's a beautiful young man, & she feels very very strongly about it.'"

On Tuesday, Kansas health officials announced that a sixth person had died from lung disease related to vaping. The woman was older than 50 and had a history of health problems. The first case was reported in Illinois in August. Then deaths followed in Oregon, Minnesota, Indiana, and California.

New York health officials reported that extremely high levels of the chemical vitamin E acetate were found in nearly all cannabis-containing vaping products in their investigation. At least one vape product containing this chemical has been linked to each person who fell ill and submitted a product for testing in the state. Many of the related vapes have candy flavors.

Perhaps consumers should avoid candy-flavored vapes for the time being. These six deaths were tragic, but surely there are higher legislative and regulatory priorities.

Other legislators supported Trump's proposed ban, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the number two Democrat in the Senate.

Whether or not Melania caught Barron with a vape as some have suggested, the first lady did share data showing high rates of e-cigarette use among America's youth.

"Data shows a high usage of flavored e-cigarettes among our youth. It's our responsibility as parents to understand the dangers that come from vaping. Our Administration supports the removal of flavored e-cigarettes from stores until they're approved by [the FDA]," Melania tweeted.

While the six vaping-related deaths are tragic, research still suggests that vaping poses fewer health risks than smoking.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.