Dems push fast action on e-cigarettes

More than a dozen congressional Democrats urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Monday to move forward immediately on efforts to keep electronic cigarettes out of the mouths of children.

The agency is currently working on a formal rule to bring the burgeoning e-cigarette industry under its regulatory authority, a move that will ban sales to minors and add other restrictions to the products.

ADVERTISEMENT
But a final rule could be months away, and there are steps the FDA could take now to crack down on an industry accused of luring young smokers with glossy ads and candy flavors, the lawmakers say.

"While FDA's proposed rule sets the stage for future regulations, strong regulatory actions on marketing to children, e-cigarette flavors, and online sales cannot wait,” they wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “FDA has an existing mechanism to protect children now — without waiting years to implement new regulations to accomplish these goals."

E-cigarette company executives testified in June that they are not marketing their wares to children.

Lawmakers responded with incredulity to the assertion, pointing to the use of cartoons and celebrities in advertisements, as well as flavors that include cotton candy, Jolly Rancher and Kool-Aid-themed choices.

Now, the lawmakers are pressing Hamburg to move without delay on a formal ban prohibiting all sales of e-cigarettes to minors, the use of flavors and online sales.

Signing the letter were Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jack Reed (R.I.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), along with Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.), Frank Pallone (N.J.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.).