Republicans blocked an amendment Wednesday that would have removed a provision from a spending bill exempting electronic cigarettes and other products from the Food and Drug Administration’s pre-market review process.
GOP appropriators rejected the proposal to strike the bill's language in a 26-23 vote.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who offered the amendment, called the rider “objectionable” and said she’s “shocked” at its inclusion in the bill.
“This bill would allow them to stay on the market ... without an FDA pre-market review and open the door for similar products to avoid FDA review down the road,” Lowey said.
The bill, which would fund the Department of Agriculture and the FDA, would make it more difficult for the FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine.
The FDA announced plans in April 2014 to issue new rules for e-cigarettes that would force manufacturers to create new health warnings labels and ban sales to people who are under the age of 18. In 2009, Congress passed a law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate all tobacco products it believes should receive oversight.
Under the rules, which are expected to be finished this summer, e-cigarette manufacturers would only be allowed to begin marketing their products after a lengthy review process.
Public health groups have expressed concern that the spending bill’s language wouldn’t protect children from these products.
“Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes ... bubble gum, gummy bears, swedish fish,” Lowey said.
”E-cigarettes is not really smoking,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said. “I think most people realize they are less dangerous than cigarettes and yet we’re subjecting them to a higher level of regulation.”
Lowey pointed out Harris has expressed interest in studying the effects of marijuana and questioned why he wouldn’t want to study the effects of newer tobacco products.