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 Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeffery Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Barbara Boxer (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."

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