A Trump campaign adviser told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump’s political aides, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, have warned him that such a ban may not be helpful with his base and that he should reconsider.
Trump was persuaded by advisers to back off the proposal during a November 4 flight to a political rally in Kentucky, the Times said. Following the conversation with advisers, the newspaper reported that Trump canceled the administration’s planned announcement that was scheduled for the next day.
The planned news conference, which would have included Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, was canceled and another meeting was proposed, according to the report.
Asked about the Times’ story, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told CNN in a statement, “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.”
Trump has previously shown little willingness to take political positions that could upset his base, which he is counting on to support him heavily ahead of his reelection campaign. Following several mass shootings, Trump suggested he was open to several gun control measures only to later abandon such positions.
A softening on his vaping position, however, is notable because first lady Melania Trump has become visibly involved amid growing concerns about the practice and its health effects. Last month, she hosted a listening session with a group of nine teenagers at the White House to learn more about how the growing trend has affected their lives. The President has also discussed his desire for his 13-year-old son Barron to not vape.
The administration had been working on a policy that could impact the sale of flavored vaping products. Suspicions that it might back down from an earlier announcement that the policy would require the removal of all vaping flavors from the market drew sharp criticism from multiple health and advocacy groups. Meanwhile, vaping industry representatives have argued such policies would curtail some adult smokers’ efforts to quit, put small vaping companies out of business and eliminate jobs.
In September, Trump said the Food and Drug Administration would put out “some very strong recommendations” regarding the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
At the time, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the enforcement policy would require all e-cigarette companies to take their non-tobacco flavored products off the market — including mint and menthol.
Then came speculation that the administration could back down from its earlier stance by including exceptions for mint and menthol, prompting more than 50 health and advocacy groups to send letters to Azar and Melania Trump calling for them to “stay the course.”