WASHINGTON - The leading American maker of electronic cigarettes, Juul Labs, announced Thursday it is suspending sales of some flavored vaping products in the United States, as the US government prepares a nationwide ban.
Juul will stop selling mango, cream, fruit and cucumber flavored pods, while federal health authorities finalize new regulations on vaping, Juul said in a statement. Its tobacco, menthol and mint-flavored products will still be available.
"We must reset the vapor category by earning the trust of society and working cooperatively with regulators, policymakers and stakeholders to combat underage use while providing an alternative to adult smokers," Juul CEO CK Crosthwaite said.
The debate over regulating e-cigarettes comes amid a mysterious epidemic of lung conditions linked to vaping that has claimed the lives of at least 33 people in 24 states.
The latest tally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number of confirmed or probable lung injury cases at 1,479 as of October 15.
THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, was involved in more than 3 quarters of cases in which patients reported using e-cigarettes in the 3 months prior to their injuries.
E-cigarettes have soared in popularity among young people since they were introduced about a decade ago, according to multiple surveys.
The industry defends vaping as a healthier alternative to cigarettes that can help people quit smoking. But lawmakers around the country, and overseas, are seeking to impose total or partial bans.
President Donald Trump's administration has chosen the path of barring flavored e-cigarettes, including the popular mint and menthol flavors.
Health Secretary Alex Azar announced plans for a ban in September. The text has not been made public yet but will soon be, according to the Federal Drug Administration, which is responsible for regulating tobacco and e-cigarettes.
Juul assured that it would not challenge the FDA's coming regulations, but its action Thursday indicates it believes its mint and menthol flavored products should be authorized.
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