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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Food and Drug Administration will announce today a series of actions aimed at cracking down on youth vaping, despite e-cigarette maker Juul's last-minute effort to self-police.

Between the lines: After years of warnings that flavored e-cigarettes appeal to young people, data finally drove the point home, prompting a Republican administration to move forward with an especially tough regulatory crackdown.

Details: As the Washington Post reported last week, the FDA's actions are expected to include:

  • A ban on sales of flavored e-cigarettes in most retail settings, along with age-verification rules for online sales.
  • A proposal to ban menthol in regular cigarettes.

Juul proposed a similar set of voluntary steps. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb applauded Juul's efforts in a tweet on Tuesday, but said that "voluntary action is no substitute for regulatory steps #FDA will soon take."

The big picture: Both of these ideas have been pushed before, both by public health advocates and some Democrats. But new data showing a 77% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students between 2017 and 2018 prompted the FDA to act.

  • A 2009 law passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress banned flavored cigarettes, but left it to the FDA to decide whether that should include menthol. E-cigarettes had yet to hit the market.
  • Toward the end of the Obama administration, some Democrats — including former Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman — asked the FDA to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but it didn't happen. Since then, Juul has become enormously popular, particularly among youth.
  • "The only reason I saw for flavors was companies trying to get kids to smoke. I pleaded with them to take out all the flavors," Waxman said in an interview. "Now, what many of us predicted has come true. Kids are vaping, and Juul is the biggest source of e-cigarettes.”

What's next: The menthol ban will likely anger the tobacco industry, but at least one former opponent of the ban — the Congressional Black Caucus — seems more likely to be on board this time around.

When it came to menthol, in 2009, there was "uncertainty about what the right public health policy was, because you had the question of whether if large populations are already smoking and addicted, and you do a ban, does that lead to black market-type concerns, or is it good for public health?" said Phil Barnett, a former staff director for Waxman.

  • "Because that was a really science-based kind of question, the idea was to leave that to FDA to address it and think it through in a regulatory process," he added.

Go deeper

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.