But that compromise has left neither public-health groups-which have argued for an all-out ban on flavored products-nor vaping industry groups-which fervently oppose such a ban-entirely happy.
Together, those exemptions represent a significant retreat from President Donald Trump's September pledge to crack down on vaping following a rash of deaths and respiratory illnesses linked to vaping.
An announcement that will take certain e-cigarette flavors off the U.S. market is coming soon, President Donald Trump told reporters at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday.
About two-thirds of high school students who vape use menthol or mint flavors, making them almost as popular as fruity flavors, according to this year's National Youth Tobacco Survey. The kind of products sold in vape shops typically use liquids that can be refilled and mixed by customers to their specific tastes.
"The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes", said Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar. According to the FDA, it will be prioritizing enforcement against any "Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems" (ENDS) manufacturer that produces a flavored, cartridge-based produce, other than tobacco or menthol flavored, assuming it has not been authorized beforehand.
The administration will move to remove one-time use flavored pods used in e-cigarettes like Juul that are popular among young people off the market but will still allow vaping liquids used in other models to be sold in adult-only vape shops.
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The official also said the recent increase in the legal age to 21 for buying tobacco products - a measure included in a year-end spending bill - reassured some in the administration that a more limited ban could still be effective in combating youth use. And if they weren't prepared, the writing has certainly been on the wall for some time. Juul, the leading e-cigarette maker, has previously stopped selling flavors including mint, mango, creme and cucumber.
The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that more than five million USA middle and high school students are e-cigarette users, with almost one million using daily.
The ban does not apply to menthol or tobacco flavors.
But the decision to permit menthol and exempt tank-based vapes was immediately condemned by anti-tobacco advocates who have lobbied the Trump administration to follow through on its initial pledge to ban all flavors except tobacco.
The delay in implementing the Azar proposal angered some lawmakers, as data showed rising e-cigarette use among teens, with vaping among high-school students soaring 143 per cent since 2017.
"The FDA is committed to a policy that aligns with our public health concerns about what's going on with kids and flavored e-cigarettes", stated FDA Director Mitch Zeller.
"If you can stop smoking, that's a big advantage, so we think we're going to get it back on the market very shortly, but we have to protect the children".