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 TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding 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 MurrayLobbying battle brewing over access to COVID-19 vaccine Trump officials seek to reassure public about safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine Overnight Health Care: Trump refuses to say if he slowed down coronavirus testing | US COVID-19 cases rise, marking ugly contrast with Europe | Trump health officials to testify on continued dangers of coronavirus pandemic 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. 

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 DurbinHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources 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.