FDA tried to ban vape flavors years before illness outbreak, investigation shows

The FDA tried to ban flavored fluids for e-cigarettes four years ago, according to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times.

The publication began investigating the issue after more than 800 people were sickened by a mysterious vaping-related illness.

The investigation found the surgeon general warned in 2012 that tobacco companies were known to use fruity flavors to hook children as a way to ensure decades of product demand. The FDA had also found some flavored e-cigarettes were shown to be poisonous in high doses.

In 2014, a national survey by the FDA and National Institutes of Health asked young people who vaped why they did it, and more than 80 percent said they vaped because "it comes in flavors I like," according to the LA Times.

The FDA drafted a rule regulating e-cigarettes in October 2015, which required flavored e-cigarettes be removed from the market within 90 days of the rule taking effect. However, in May 2016 when the rule was published, the flavor ban was excluded.

Cecilia Muñoz, who was at the time a senior official heading the White House's Domestic Policy Council, told the LA Times that the FDA "struggled" with assessing the economic implications of such a ban, given that the health benefits and harms were still inconclusive.

As the number of people with the vaping-related illness continues to increase and states are enacting policies banning the sale of flavored vaping fluid, the FDA is under pressure to take federal action.

A press officer at the FDA told the LA Times the agency plans on finalizing a compliance policy in the coming weeks "to clear the market of unauthorized, kid-appealing flavored e-cigarette products."

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