Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are worried the president could go back on his word, worried about backlash from vapers when he’s up for reelection next year.
“When we know something harms children, hurts children, we have a moral responsibility to protect them,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said. “I don’t understand why the president is now changing his mind.”
Federal health officials last year declared teen vaping an epidemic. Erika Sward of the American Lung Association said the only way to get teens to stop doing it is to ban flavors.
“Anything less than that is not going to get the job done,” she said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., fears the vaping industry may be talking the president into backpedaling.
“We know who this president is hearing from: He’s hearing from Juul,” Durbin said on the Senate floor.
Juul, one of the nation’s leading producers of vaping products, is partly owned by Altria, a big tobacco company. Vaping companies and customers have orchestrated a campaign to keep flavors legal.
“Adults walking around with buttons that say, ‘We vape and we vote,'” Durbin said. “Kids should be wearing buttons saying, ‘We vape and our health is at risk.'”
He sent a letter to the president Tuesday asking him not to break his promise. The White House says no promises have been broken.
“We are in an ongoing rulemaking process and will not speculate on the final outcome,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement.
Meanwhile, bipartisan plans to make a flavoring ban permanent are gaining traction in Congress.
“This is a really important thing that Congress needs to take up,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said.
“Legislation may be the option to take,” Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., agreed.
The White House will not specify what to expect in its ban. The Food and Drug Administration and Department of Health and Human Services have yet to weigh in.