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US announces countrywide ban on flavoured e-cigs

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Media caption'I felt helpless to stop my son's addiction': Kristen wants vaping companies held accountable

The US has announced a countrywide ban on some e-cigarette flavours amid concerns about vaping among teens.

The ban applies to mint and fruit flavours that are offered in cartridge-based e-cigarettes, like the popular pods sold by Juul.

The US will continue to allow menthol and tobacco flavours, as well as fruit flavours delivered in other ways.

The action has been under consideration for more than a year, with several states passing similar rules.

South Korea, India, Brazil are among the dozens of countries that have announced sweeping vaping bans. Others, like China, have announced restrictions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration wanted to continue to offer adults an alternative to traditional cigarettes, while responding to concerns about growing addiction to a new product among teens.

"By prioritizing enforcement against the products that are most widely used by children, our action today seeks to strike the right public health balance," he said.

'Big industry'

Fifty-five people have died and more than 2,500 people have been hospitalised with injuries linked to vaping, US health regulators say.

Investigators have said they believe vitamin E acetate, which is sometimes added to marijuana vaping products, is playing a role.

Citing the crisis, President Trump said in September the US would ban all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, but the administration loosened its position after pushback from the industry.

"We have to protect our families. At the same time, it's a big industry. We want to protect the industry," Mr Trump said this week.

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Juul, the biggest e-cigarette company in the US, had already pulled its flavoured pods from the market, but Thursday's action forces competitors to make a similar move, within 30 days.

Advocates for stricter rules have said that teens will switch to menthol if other options are eliminated.

But officials said they would take steps against menthol and tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes if the Food and Drug Administration sees that their use among teens is rising.

The US also recently raised the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. E-cigarettes are also governed by those rules.

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