The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to exempt all electronic cigarettes and cigars currently on the market from the costly review process required by rules being finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The bipartisan amendment proposed by Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and attached to a proposed Agriculture budget passed 31-19. Under the FDA's proposed rule, electronic cigarettes and cigars that hit stores after Feb. 15, 2007, would have to go through the new product approval process.
If the amendment is left intact and the spending bill is approved, that date would change to the date the rule takes effect.
Before the vote, several Democrats, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), urged their colleagues to oppose the amendment, saying it would exclude cigars and e-cigarettes from important product review requirements, and slammed the e-cigarette industry specifically for using candy and fruit flavors to target children.
“It’s nice hear there are some who believe — although we don’t have data to attach to that — that they have been able to eliminate their addiction to cigarettes by using these products, but the purpose of this industry is to keep people addicted to nicotine and raise another generation of children who are addicted to nicotine,” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.).
While Cole recognized lawmakers’ concerns about the lack of research surrounding e-cigarettes, he said it has not stopped the FDA from moving forward with regulation.
“Regulating through a rearview window is a very dangerous thing to do,” he said.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) argued that the FDA can still regulate the flavors and the amount of formaldehyde used in e-cigarettes.
“I don’t think anyone would argue that a cigarette burning raw tobacco is more harmful than using a vapor product, which is the refined nicotine,” he said.