Stories

Fear and vaping in our schools

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Prohibition is making a comeback to stop youths from vaping — and everyone from public schoolteachers to the medical community to the Trump family seems on board.

Driving the news: Wednesday, President Trump unexpectedly called reporters into the Oval Office where he — flanked by first lady Melania Trump — said he was exploring a ban on most flavors of e-cigarettes, the most popular brand being Juul.

Why it matters: Today's youth radiate promising statistics on public health — they're smoking less tobacco, using fewer drugs, experiencing lower rates of teenage pregnancy and consuming less alcohol — but vaping is a growing concern.

  • So schools are cracking down: "Thousands of schools across the country are installing sensors in bathrooms to catch offenders. One school in Alabama has gone as far as to remove bathroom stall doors," Reuters reports.
  • Another district began "requiring students to roll up their sleeves when entering school in an attempt to prevent them from hiding e-cigarettes."

"We simply have to remove these attractive, flavored products from the marketplace until they secure FDA approval," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday.

  • As we reported last month, state attorneys general are suing and investigating Juul over its marketing techniques, which were highly influential among the youth.

What they're saying:

  • Trump: “People are dying with vaping. We have to find out the extent of the problem. We can’t allow people to get sick, and we can’t have our youth be so affected. ... They're coming home and they're saying, 'Mom, I want to vape!'"
  • On Monday, Melania tweeted she was "deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children.”

Between the lines: Targeting the flavors, and not the vapor itself, might leave regulators disappointed. Part of the rise of vaping among youths has been the appeal of "vape tricks" videos, which emulate the smoke of cigarettes and marijuana.

Go deeper: Juul's growing kids crisis