Senators warn of secondhand risks from e-cigarettes

 

Democratic senators have asked the Food and Drug Administration to take into consideration the potential secondhand harm from e-cigarettes as the agency writes rules to regulate the products.

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In a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, eight Democrats pointed to two recent studies that show e-cigarette byproducts such as formaldehyde could harm not just those inhaling the tobacco product, but also those around them.

”Because many of the same limitations on smoking in public spaces do not apply universally to e-cigarettes and other advanced nicotine delivery products, these products put at risk not only adults and youth who use these devices, but potentially also those who are involuntary exposed to secondhand vapors,” the senators wrote.

The FDA is currently working on a rule that would bring tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, hookahs and dissolvable tobacco products under its purview. The agency already regulates products that account for about 25 cents of every consumer dollar spent in the U.S.

If the rule is finalized, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes would have to register with the agency and list their ingredients. They would also need to get FDA approval before marketing new products.

While e-cigarette companies claim their products can help people quit traditional cigarettes, the rule would also require them to provide research before making such claims.

"This proposed rule is the latest step in our efforts to make the next generation tobacco-free," said Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Stakeholders can voice their opinion on the FDA’s new rule on regulations.gov until July 9. So far the docket has received almost 3,400 comments.

The senators who signed the letter to the FDA were Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).