Trump's Reported Backtrack on Flavored E-Cigarette Ban Is 'A Conscious Decision to Let Children Die,' Says Health Professor

President Donald Trump reversed course on banning flavored e-cigarettes because he feared it would have an impact on his 2020 election campaign, it has been reported.

Federal regulators had given the go-ahead for the proposed ban, which was aimed at curbing the use of e-cigarettes among millions of teenagers and would have seen candy-, fruit- and mint-flavored vaping products taken off the shelves.

However, Trump wavered and did not sign off on the plan on November 4 due to warnings that it could cost jobs and vape shop owners, as well as customers, would desert him at the ballot box in battleground states, a senior White House official told The Washington Post.

Flavored vaping products
Flavored vaping products containing nicotine are seen in a store in Los Angeles, California, September 17, 2019. President Donald Trump reportedly reversed a planned ban of the e-cigarettes out of fears it might cost jobs. ROBYN BECK/Getty Images

The U-turn followed the prominent #IVapeIVote campaign, whose proponents converged on Washington DC this month warning lawmakers not to ban flavored e-cigarette products.

"He didn't know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka," the official said, referring to the first lady and the president's daughter.

Last month, Melania Trump expressed her concern at the explosion of young people vaping, after she heard stories from teenagers at a White House "listening session" about their experiences with e-cigarettes.

"We need to be proactive before it gets out of control," she said, according to NBC Washington.

The associate professor of global health policy at the University of North Carolina, Benjamin Mason Meier, slammed the president's reported reversal, tweeting on Sunday: "The President has made a conscious decision to let children die."

"Who would have thought that this President would put his personal electoral gains over the health of the nation?" he added.

Meanwhile, former White House cabinet secretary Chris Lu tweeted: "Once again, Trump backs away from dealing with a serious issue because it might hurt his re-election. First, it was healthcare, then guns and now vaping."

Earlier in November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said there have been more than 2,000 cases of vaping-associated illnesses in 49 states.

At least 39 people, many of them young, have died, with a study pointing to vitamin E acetate in illicit vaping products with THC, the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

The White House would not comment on the Post's report about the president's apparent reversal.

The President has made a conscious decision to let children die. (Who would have thought that this President would put his personal electoral gains over the health of the nation?)

— Benjamin Mason Meier (@BenjaminMMeier) November 18, 2019

"President Trump and this administration are committed to responsibly protecting the health of children. At this time, we are in an ongoing rulemaking process, and I will not speculate on the final outcome," White House spokesperson Judd Deere told the newspaper.

Last week, Trump himself tweeted that he would be meeting with representatives of the vaping industry, medical professionals and state representatives "to come up with an acceptable solution to the Vaping and E-cigarette dilemma."

A compromise Trump is considering might include a ban on flavored e-cigarettes that exempts vape shops, or raising the minimum federal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Robin Koval, president of anti-tobacco group Truth Initiative, said: "It appears that politics, not public health, is driving the decisions."