Senate Democrats urge Trump not to back down from vaping flavor ban

Senate Democrats urge Trump not to back down from vaping flavor ban
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Democratic senators are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE not to abandon his promise to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

In a letter sent Tuesday, 25 Democrats led by Senate Health Committee ranking member Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate passes bipartisan bill to permanently fund historically black colleges Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Senate panel approves Trump FDA pick | Biden downplays Dem enthusiasm around 'Medicare for All' | Trump officials unveil program for free HIV prevention drugs for uninsured Trump's FDA nominee approved by Senate panel MORE (Wash.), said they had “significant concerns” because it has been more than a month since administration officials first announced their intention to remove all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes from the market.  

“With each day, more children continue to be lured to e-cigarettes by flavors such as fruit, candy, and mint or menthol. We are therefore deeply troubled that there is no final compliance policy more than six weeks after the Oval Office announcement,” the senators wrote. 

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Pressure has been growing on the administration ever since the Sept. 11 announcement. 

Democrats and many Republicans initially applauded when Trump and federal health officials made the announcement to restrict the sale of all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes. 

But the administration has yet to release the policy, and Democrats have been ramping up their criticism. 

Last week, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and one of the most vocal opponents of vaping, called Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and urged him to release the rule.  

Mitch Zeller, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco program, told reporters last week that the rule is a “very, very high priority, and we're trying to complete work on it as quickly as possible."

But the administration has also been taking heat from the right.

Trump’s initial announcement was met with fierce opposition from the vaping industry and conservatives, who argue that removing flavors would hurt small businesses and adults who use the products to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

Azar is now reportedly considering exempting mint and menthol flavors from the ban, amid warnings from Trump’s 2020 campaign team that the ban could have negative political ramifications for the president.

Murray and the other Democrats warned the administration not to listen.

“[W]e implore the Administration to finalize a compliance policy removing all unauthorized, non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from the market immediately. It must not bow to industry or political pressure at the expense of the public health,” the Democrats wrote. 

The White House Office of Management and Budget last week began reviewing the administration’s guidance to that would implement the ban. 

However, there is no timeframe for when the review will end, and administration officials have not disclosed what the actual text of the guidance will say.