Trump FDA pick dodges questions on Trump's flavored vape ban

Trump FDA pick dodges questions on Trump's flavored vape ban
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address MORE’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sidestepped questions from senators on Wednesday about the future of the Trump administration’s efforts to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

Stephen Hahn, the chief medical executive of MD Anderson Cancer Center, said “aggressive action” is needed to stop the youth vaping epidemic, and to prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco. 

But when pressed at his confirmation hearing, Hahn did not directly address the issue of a flavor ban.

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"I understand that the final compliance policy is under consideration, I don’t want to prejudge that,” Hahn said.

Testifying before the Senate Health Committee, Hahn pledged to make decisions based on science and data, rather than politics. 

The questions from Democrats and Republicans came after multiple reports that Trump is backing down from his pledge to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. 

Just a week ago, the FDA official in charge of tobacco products testified in the same committee, and repeatedly declined to commit that the administration would ban flavored e-cigarettes. 

The president and top health officials announced their intention to remove vaping flavors in September, but Trump reportedly stopped the FDA from implementing a proposed rule after he became concerned about job losses, and the political influence on his 2020 reelection. 

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayTrump 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 The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases MORE (D-Wash.), the committee’s ranking member, and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyQAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (R-Utah) were among the senators who pressed Hahn about vaping on Wednesday.  

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“This is a really critical issue. Is the FDA, under your leadership, able and willing to take action … whether or not the White House wants you to take that action?” Romney asked. 

Hahn said he always puts patients first.

“I think it’s a serious issue,” Hahn said about youth vaping. “And I think it requires bold action to keep these out of the hands of kids.” 

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) said he thinks Hahn was not being completely honest about his views on the vaping flavor ban.

“I will tell you that I am less than happy with many of the answers you gave to members of this committee with regard to vaping and the potential ban on flavored e cigarettes. I just don’t think that was you. I think it was prep from handlers,” Jones said.