White House Oval Office Washington D.C. September 11 12:30 P.M. EDT
Well, thank you very much. I just want to say that the First Lady and myself, we just came back from an incredible experience at the Pentagon. It was an incredible - really, a beautiful ceremony.
I was very honored, and I think I can definitely speak for the First Lady, to have partaken in a ceremony that was just so, so lovely, representing September 11th. Three thousand lives. And, if you think about it, that number really got, as you know, Alex, it got a lot higher than that, indirectly. Directly and indirectly, a lot of people. A lot of great people.
So, that was a tremendous job everybody did this morning, letting the world know that we're ready for anything if we have to be. We're ready for anything.
So, thank you. And I know a lot of you were there, and I appreciate you being there very much.
We have a problem in our country. It's a new problem. It's a problem nobody really thought about too much a few years ago, and it's called "vaping" - especially vaping as it pertains to innocent children. And they're coming home and they're saying, "Mom, I want to vape."
And the parents don't know too much about it. And nobody knows too much about it, but they do know it's causing a lot of problems. And we're going to have to do something about it.
One of the words and one of the reasons we're meeting today is to let you know that it's out there. And we want to have parents understand that we're studying it very carefully. It's, again, very new and potentially very bad. There have been deaths and there have been a lot of other problems. People think it's an easy solution to cigarettes, but it's turned out that it has its own difficulties.
So, I'm going to ask Secretary Azar to say a few words. And then, if I could, Acting Director of the FDA Sharpless. And you've been doing a fantastic job. I want to thank you.
And we want to discuss the situation because not only is it a problem overall but, really, specifically, with respect to children, we're getting some stories that we don't want to hear. And we may very well have to do something very, very strong about it.
So, if I could ask you, Mr. Secretary, to say a few words.
Thank you, Mr. President. So we briefed the President and First Lady today on as yet undisclosed, new data that we have from the National Youth Tobacco survey.
This information shows a continued surging in adolescent usage of e-cigarettes. It also shows that the youth are drawn to flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol.
Currently, about 8 million adults use e-cigarettes, but 5 million children are using e-cigarettes. This is exceptionally harmful to our children. An entire generation of children risk becoming addicted to nicotine because of the attractiveness, appeal-ability, and availability of these vaping products.
So, with the President's support, the Food and Drug Administration intends to finalize a guidance document that would commence enforcement to require that all flavors, other than tobacco flavor, would be removed from the market.
This would include mint and menthol flavoring, as well as candy flavors, bubblegum flavor, fruit flavor, alcohol flavor. You get the drift.
So, once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace.
We would allow tobacco flavoring to remain, subject to their filing - the manufacturers of the tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products - filing for pre-market tobacco approval with the Food and Drug Administration to assure that the availability of their product is consistent with the public health under the standards set by the Tobacco Control Act.
Any of the other products, which would be removed from the market, would be able to apply under the similar regulatory pathway for approval but have to meet that standard.
But I want to caution that with the President's support, while we would allow the tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes to remain on the market to be available for adults who are seeking to stop the use of combustible tobacco, if we find that children are being attracted to tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, if we find that manufacturers are marketing the tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes to children, or placing them in settings where they get them, we will take enforcement action there also.
Let me turn it over to Dr. Ned Sharpless, the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, for any additional details and comments that he would have.
ACTING COMMISSIONER SHARPLESS:
Thank you, Secretary. The data gathered by the CDC and the FDA, as the Secretary described, it shows a very concerning, alarming trend of use by children of flavored e-cigarette products.
The President is directing the FDA to take decisive action against this problem and to finalize our plans that we have been working on. This would have the effect, as the Secretary mentioned, of severely curtailing access to flavored e-cigarette products, which we believe drive childhood use, and will help use get a handle on this alarming and concerning trend.
And I will say that Commissioner Sharpless has been working on this very hard. But he's now going to double and triple up. We're looking at very strong rules and regulations. We already have laws as we need them. But we want to get to the bottom of a very unusual situation. It's so new, and it's become so big, so fast. And it could be a potential very severe problem.
So, Commissioner, you know what to do.
ACTING COMMISSIONER SHARPLESS:
You know what to do. And it's something that, frankly, should have been looked into a few years ago in a much more advanced way. It wasn't. And we have something that will be very interesting to see what turns up. But you'll be able to report back in the fairly near future because you've done a lot of work on this. And we'll see what happens. Okay?
ACTING COMMISSIONER SHARPLESS:
Yes, sir. The FDA is on it.
Thank you very much.
Any questions on this, please?
Mr. President, is the Taliban - excuse me. Is the Taliban talks completely dead still? Or is there still a possibility -
The talks with the Taliban are dead.
A follow-up on your decision yesterday with regard to Mr. Bolton. What led you to decide to part ways?
So, John is somebody that I actually got along with very well. He made some very big mistakes. When he talked about the Libyan model for Kim Jong Un, that was not a good statement to make. You just take a look at what happened with Qaddafi. That was not a good statement to make, and it set us back.
And, frankly, he wanted to do things - not necessarily tougher than me. You know, John is known as a tough guy. He's so tough, he got us into Iraq. That's tough. And - but he's somebody that I actually had a very good relationship with, but he wasn't getting along with people in the administration that I consider very important. And I hope we - we've left in good stead, but maybe we have and maybe we haven't.
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