Senate Dem demands probe into alleged leak of e-cigarette rules

Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayWhat the 'Bernie Sanders wing of the GOP' can teach Congress Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military A fight for new rights MORE (D-Wash.) is demanding an investigation after a tobacco industry group claimed to have obtained a leaked copy of the Obama administration’s final rules for electronic cigarettes and conventional cigars.

In a letter Thursday, the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee asked Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson to find the leak.

“The premature disclosure of this unverified but confidential information during a period when the regulation remains under review by the Executive Branch is of serious concern,” she said.

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) last week leaked what it claims to be the table of contents and guidance on premarket tobacco product applications for e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

The group’s chief executive Ray Story told The Hill last week that it was sharing the documents to spur action among e-cigarette makers. He said the rules, as they stand now, could effectively wipe out the e-cigarette industry.

If the documents are in fact from the final rule, any nicotine delivery device that hit store shelves after Feb. 15, 2007, will have to apply retroactively for approval, a process that industry groups say will cost millions.  

“I would be very concerned to learn that TVECA gained access to confidential information about federal policymaking on such critical issues ahead of the public,” Murray said in her letter.