Conservative groups urge Trump to stop FDA crackdown on e-cigs

Conservative groups urge Trump to stop FDA crackdown on e-cigs

A coalition of conservative groups is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE to stop the Food and Drug Administration's "aggressive regulatory assault" on businesses that sell e-cigarettes. 

The FDA under Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has cracked down on e-cigarette sellers and manufacturers amid an epidemic of use among minors.

But the conservative groups, led by Americans for Tax Reform, argued the FDA is pursuing policies that are "more extreme than those contemplated by the Obama administration." 

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"Without your intervention, Commissioner Gottlieb may not only destroy tens of thousands of jobs at small stores and manufacturers, but he will prevent some of the more than 35 million American adults who still smoke tobacco cigarettes from ever successfully quitting," the 19 groups wrote.

The FDA has proposed rules that would limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to age-restricted, in-person locations, and require a heightened age verification process for online retailers selling e-cigarettes. 

Gottlieb says he's tried to strike a balance between making it harder for minors to access e-cigarettes and keeping them available for adults who want to transition away from cigarettes. 

But the groups argue the FDA is overreacting and will harm adults who want to stop smoking cigarettes.

"Unfortunately, a spike in the use of these products by teens has resulted in regulatory panic and significant government overreach," the groups wrote. 

"There are millions of adults who have successfully quit smoking cigarettes with tobacco-free alternatives like e-cigarettes."

Curbing e-cigarette use among minors has been one of Gottlieb's top priorities since joining the Trump administration in 2017. 

The letter comes after Gottlieb's comments last week that the e-cigarette industry will face an "existential threat" if youth use continues to increase in 2019. 

According to data released by the FDA in November, there was a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students from 2017 to 2018. 

Still, public health groups argue the FDA isn't being aggressive enough in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids. 

The American Lung Association gave the FDA an 'F' for "lack of action" in addressing what it  considers a public health crisis.

“These points are received,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted last week in response.

 “The agency must — and soon will — be doing much more to firmly address this mounting epidemic.”