Senate Dems urge HHS to give FDA authority to regulate e-cigarettes

Democratic Senators are urging the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize tobacco deeming regulations to give the Food and Drug Admnistration regulatory authoirty over all tobacco products including electronic cigarettes.

In a letter Wednesday, Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Google to promote original reporting | Senators demand answers from Amazon on worker treatment | Lawmakers weigh response to ransomware attacks Senate Democrats want answers on 'dangerous' Amazon delivery system Hillicon Valley: Uber vows to defy California labor bill | Facebook, Google, Twitter to testify on mass shootings | Facebook's Libra to pursue Swiss payments license MORE (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms Trump defends push to ban flavored e-cigarettes: Let's 'keep young children from Vaping!' Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine MORE (D-Ill.), Jeffery Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Trump's sinking polls embolden Democrats to play hardball Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-Wash.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerHillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) asked HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to finalize the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, proposed last April, before FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg steps down or within a year from the release date of the proposed rule.

“As it stands, e-cigarettes are being aggressively marketed to children and the use of e-cigarettes by minors has skyrocketed in recent years,” the letter said.  “Teen use of e-cigarettes now surpasses use of regular cigarettes according to recent data from the government-sponsored Monitoring the Future survey, with over 16 percent of 10th graders and over 17 percent of 12th graders reporting use of e-cigarettes during the past month. “

And since the number of calls to poison control for incidents involving the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes continues to rise, the lawmakers said the final deeming rules should require manufacturers to use child-proof packaging.

They also asked HHS not to change the grandfather date, saying that doing so would expose children and others to a host of new tobacco products that have not been subject to agency review.  

“Because of FDA’s delay in asserting its jurisdiction over other tobacco products, there are likely hundreds of e-cigarette products on the market today without any regulatory review of their consequences for public health,” the letter said.  “Grandfathering of these products would mean these products would never be subject to a review by FDA to determine whether they are appropriate to be sold, and essentially undermine consumer protections.”