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.

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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 BoxerBarbara BoxerSenators seek to boost women in international forces Overnight Energy: Senate approves Flint aid | Union chief backs Dakota pipeline White House proxy fight breaks out on Senate floor MORE (Calif.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinSpending bill doesn't include Cruz internet fight Overnight Tech: GOP says internet fight isn't over | EU chief defends Apple tax ruling | Feds roll out self-driving car guidelines | Netflix's China worries Reid blasts Cruz over internet fight MORE (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 (Iowa), Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem FCC commissioner MORE (W.Va.), Richard BlumenthalRichard Blumenthal5 questions about the Yahoo hack Schumer rips 'disappointing' 9/11 bill veto, pledges override Dems call for better birth control access for female troops MORE (Conn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySet-top box shenanigans at the FCC Week ahead in tech: Crunch time for internet handoff opponents Ralph Nader still fighting for auto safety 50 years after landmark law MORE (Mass.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownLawmakers play catch-up as smartphone banking surges Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas House votes to eliminate Olympic medal tax MORE (Ohio), Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices Week ahead: Negotiators near deal on defense bill MORE (R.I.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Wells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices MORE (Ore.), and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinOvernight Tech: Pressure builds ahead of TV box vote | Intel Dems warn about Russian election hacks | Spending bill doesn't include internet measure Intel Dems: Russia making 'serious effort' to influence US election GOP senators: Obama rebuffed negotiations on 9/11 bill MORE (Calif.), along with Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.), Frank Pallone (N.J.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.).