Senate Dems want crackdown on e-cigs

Half a dozen Senate Democrats called Monday on a pair of federal agencies to go after electronic cigarette companies that claim their wares can help smokers quit.

The Food and Drug Administration is readying regulations that would bring the burgeoning e-cigarette industry under its supervision, though a proposed rule has sat under review at the White House since October, and it's unclear how soon it would be issued.

In the meantime, lawmakers say, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission can use existing authority to reprimand e-cigarette manufacturers who make unsubstantiated or false claims in their advertising.

Led by Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Boxer25 years after court gutted rule, EPA could finally ban asbestos Everything you need to know about the National Guard's bonus controversy Lawmakers praise bonus-clawback suspension, pledge permanent fix MORE (D-Calif.), the senators single out NEwhere electronic cigarettes, which proclaimed, "Quit Smoking with Electronic Cigarettes” on the their website.

“We believe that you can and should act immediately to crack down on these false and deceptive claims by e-cigarette manufacturers,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FTC Commissioner Edith Ramirez.

A similar letter was sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Other signatories on the missives include Sens. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalCalifornia National Guard official: Congress knew about bonus repayments Dems demand anti-LGBT language be taken out of defense bill Senate Dems want major women's golf event moved off Trump course MORE (D-Conn.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Wikileaks: Durbin pushed unknown Warren for Obama bank regulator The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Ill.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyFCC approves new privacy rules for 'sensitive' internet data Senate Dems target Wells Fargo auditor Senate Dems want major women's golf event moved off Trump course MORE (D-Mass.), and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSanders warns Clinton: Don't rush to compromise with GOP Dem senator praises US steel after car crash Lobbying World MORE (D-Ohio).

The appeal follows proposed legislation that would empower the FTC to prohibit marketing e-cigarettes to children. 

Currently, the $1 billion-plus e-cigarette industry is mostly unregulated at the federal level. Public health advocates and some lawmakers, however, are calling on the FDA to bring the industry under its supervision via authority granted to the agency by the 2009 Tobacco Control Act.

“We recognize that the FDA has been working to regulate these products,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter sent Monday. “However, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research does not need this regulation or any new authority in order to investigate companies making unsubstantiated and potentially false therapeutic claims.”