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Flavored vaping products containing nicotine. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama-era FDA tried to ban flavored vaping products in order to protect kids, but White House officials blocked the plan following aggressive lobbying from the vaping industry, according to hundreds of documents obtained by the LA Times.

Why it matters: The evidence suggesting that flavors could have a significant impact on youth vaping was essentially covered up.

  • Flavors enticing to teens — like cotton candy or bubble gum — would have been banned from stores. What ended up happening instead was that by 2018, 4.9 million teens had taken up vaping.

Details: 44 meetings between 100 tobacco and vape advocates and Obama officials occurred between October 2015 and February 2016.

  • These lobbyists were interested in tossing out a draft of the tobacco rule that required the removal of any flavored e-cigarette fluid from the market within 90 days of when the rule took effect.
  • The rule published in May 2016 without any mention of flavored products. Juul sales, which then included flavored vape pods, skyrocketed.

The Obama administration's explanation for pulling the requirement was that vape shops' predicted economic struggles would outweigh the potential health benefits of the ban, the officials told the Times.

The bottom line, per LA Times: Today's youth epidemic is "exactly the kind of crisis the Food and Drug Administration had warned of four years ago."

Go deeper: GOP allies warn vaping ban will sink Trump in 2020

Go deeper

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.