Dems upset over changes to e-cigarette rules

Senate Democrats said Wednesday they are disappointed with reports that the White House weakened the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) e-cigarette regulations before they were proposed in April.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he was "deeply concerned" by the news, while Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)  said she hopes the FDA does not water down the rules anymore before they are finalized.

“There should be no weakening of the FDA regulation, which I support because it will help protect the public — especially children — from the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products,” Boxer said in a statement to The Hill.

Reuters reported that the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) ordered the FDA to make certain changes to the rules, which were originally written in a way that would have allowed the agency to ban online sales of e-cigarettes.

The original rules were also tougher on some cigars. 

“In the four years it’s taken the FDA to begin implementing rules that would help rein in Big Tobacco, the e-cigarette industry has exploded. I’m deeply concerned that OMB would walk back measures proposed by experts at the FDA to protect Americans from e-cigarettes, their potentially lethal e-liquids, and premium cigars," Brown said in a statement.

"I hope OMB will reverse course and put the health of our children first.”

After the FDA's e-cigarette rules came out, many Senate Democrats, including Health Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa), criticized the agency for not taking a harder line on these tobacco products.

But most of their concerns were focused on the fact that the FDA did not ban flavored e-cigarettes, which could allow these companies to target children, they said.