Oversight Subcommittee to question FDA tobacco director over status of Trump’s vaping ban
A House subcommittee on Wednesday will question the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) tobacco center director over the status of the Trump administration’s pledge to ban flavored e-cigarette products amid a growing epidemic of young users.
The Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy announced the hearing Tuesday, citing reports of President Trump backing off the proposed flavor vaping ban.
Mitch Zeller, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, is set to appear as a witness during the hearing.
The hearing follows subcommittee Chairman Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s (D-Ill.) November letter to the White House and FDA in which he demanded to know the status of the proposed vaping-flavor guidance.
His letter followed numerous reports that Trump had backed off his pledge after pushback from the vaping industry and political advisers.
In September Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the FDA intended to finalize a guidance that would require all non-tobacco flavored vaping products to be removed from the market.
At the time of the announcement, Azar said 8 million adults and 5 million minors were using e-cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control reported 2,290 cases of e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury and 47 confirmed deaths as of Nov. 20.
The White House Office of Management and Budget completed regulatory review of a proposed rule about “electronic nicotine delivery systems” on Nov. 4, and canceled meetings with public health advocates as well as pro-vaping groups, but the rule was never published.
Senators similarly pressed Zeller last month for information on the administration’s efforts to remove the products from the market, but he said he could not give them a timeline and directed questions on the announcement to the White House.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said on Tuesday that the proposal has not been stalled or abandoned.
“As the President has said, there is a serious problem among our youth and their growing addiction to e-cigarettes. The policy making process is not stalled. The Administration continues to move forward on development of responsible guidelines that protect the public health and the American people,” Deere said in an emailed statement.
–This report was updated at 12:17 p.m.