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Donald Trump awkwardly refers to Barron as 'Melania's son' as he proposes ban on flavoured e-cigarettes

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 12/09/2019 Harriet Brewis
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Watch: Trump refers to his son as 'Melania's son' (Evening Standard)

Donald Trump raised eyebrows when he awkwardly referred to Barron as "Melania's son" as he proposed a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes.

The US president praised the First Lady for stressing the health risks of vaping for young people during a press conference.

He said vaping had become a “giant business in a very short period of time” and insisted: “We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected.” Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

He went on: “And that’s how the first lady got involved. She’s got a son... Together. That is a beautiful, young man, and she feels very, very strongly about it."

Melania Trump wearing a black shirt: First lady Melania Trump listens as her husband speaks about the proposed vape flavour ban (REUTERS) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited First lady Melania Trump listens as her husband speaks about the proposed vape flavour ban (REUTERS)

Twitter users were quick to comment on the correction, with one writing: “‘She’s got a son’, and not ‘we have a son’. Bet that makes Barron feel all warm and fuzzy.”

Mr Trump’s apparent slip-up came as he announced government plans to ban thousands of flavoured e-cigarettes products after a spate of deaths.

The surprise White House announcement is a response to a recent surge in underage vaping that has alarmed parents, politicians and health authorities across the US.

The proposed flavour ban could remake the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which has been driven by sales of flavoured nicotine formulas such as "grape slushie" and "strawberry cotton candy."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be tasked with developing guidelines to remove all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco from the American market, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during the Oval Office office press conference.

Barron Trump, Donald Trump standing in a field: Donald Trump with son Barron, 13, and wife Melania (EPA) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Donald Trump with son Barron, 13, and wife Melania (EPA)

Mr Trump's first public comments on vaping also come as health authorities investigate six deaths and hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified, though many cases allegedly involve marijuana vaping.

The restrictions announced by officials would only apply to nicotine vaping products, which are regulated by the FDA.

The FDA has had the authority to ban vaping flavours since 2016, but has previously resisted calls to do so.

Agency officials instead said they were studying if flavours could help smokers quit traditional cigarettes.

a close up of a sign: Flavoured e-cigarrette pods are displayed for sale (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Flavoured e-cigarrette pods are displayed for sale (AP)

But parents, teachers and health advocates have increasingly called for a crackdown on the appealing varieties, arguing that they are overwhelmingly to blame for the explosion in underage vaping by US teens, pointing to fashionable devices such as Juul e-cigarettes.

"It has taken far too long to stop Juul and other e-cigarettes companies from targeting our nation's kids with sweet-flavored, nicotine-loaded products," Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a statement.

Federal law prohibits e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under 18.

But federal health officials revealed on Wednesday that preliminary data shows more than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping this year, compared with 1 in 5 students in 2018.

Federal health officials have called the trend an "epidemic," and they fear teenagers who vape will eventually start smoking.

a man standing in front of a store: It is illegal to see e-cigarettes to under-18s but they are reportedly still popular among children as young as 11 (AP) © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited It is illegal to see e-cigarettes to under-18s but they are reportedly still popular among children as young as 11 (AP)

More than 80 per cent of underage teens who use e-cigarettes say they picked their product because it "comes in flavours that I like," according to government surveys.

A ban on flavours would be a huge blow to companies like San Francisco-based Juul, which sells mint, fruit and dessert flavored-nicotine pods.

Juul and others have argued that their products are intended to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes.

But a Juul spokesman said in a statement that the company "strongly" agreed with the need for "aggressive action" on flavours.

"We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective," he said.

Gallery: Doctors warn people who vape to look out for these symptoms (INSIDER)


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