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OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Pressure builds for FDA tobacco regs

Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of news from Capitol Hill and beyond. It's Thursday evening here in Washington and I can't believe the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards by one point in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Nenê where were you on that rebound? Here's what's happening:

 

THE BIG STORY

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is giving the Food and Drug Administration until the end of the summer to finalize its deeming regulations for all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars.  

The Tobacco Control Act provides the FDA with the authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco and any other tobacco products including e-cigarettes the agency deems by regulation to be subject to the law.

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The agency first proposed this deeming regulation more than a year ago, and Blumenthal said it has exceeded the deadline to finalize the rule.

"We've met with the appropriate officials at the administration," he said. "We're pushing them hard to protect the public, and I will introduce legislation if they fail to act promptly."

During an event hosted by the American Association for Cancer Research, Blumenthal said he's troubled by data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last month that showed use of e-cigarettes among middle- and high-school students has tripled in the last year.

"People smoke; they continue to smoke even in the face of the self-destructive, disastrous effects of smoking because they're addicted," he said. "The overwhelming majority of smokers try to quit, and they can't."

During the event, Maciej Goniewicz, assistant professor of oncology in the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., said the formaldehyde found in the liquid nicotine used in electronic cigarettes is a known carcinogen.

"We know that formaldehyde is a carcinogenic compound," he said "There are different levels of that formaldehyde in electronic cigarettes."

Goniewicz said the levels of formaldehyde in the vapor vary depending on temperature. Products with strong batteries that allow users to increase the temperature inside the device, he said, are breathing in more formaldehyde.

Though hailed by the tobacco industry as a device to help cigarette smokers quit smoking, an official with the CDC said close to three-quarters of e-cigarette users are also smoking traditional cigarettes.

"And there's a reason we're concerned about dual use," said Brian King, acting deputy director for research translation for the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "That's because cutting back is not enough. Even a few cigarettes a day are dangerous."

Smoking just five cigarettes a day can double your risk of dying from heart disease, according to a CDC report. The good news, however, King said, is there are many benefits to quitting completely.

"With heart disease, your risk is cut in half one year after quitting and that will continue to drop over time," he said. "Even quitting at age 50 cuts your risk in half of early death from smoking related diseases." http://bit.ly/1EIo4cx

 

ON TAP FOR FRIDAY

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee will hold a hearing to discuss how to overcome barriers to more efficient and effective VA staffing. http://1.usa.gov/1E4dxqF

The House Judiciary's Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the oversight of the antitrust enforcement agencies. http://1.usa.gov/1FiTX0Z

  

TOMORROW'S REGS TODAY

The Obama administration will publish 223 new rules, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Friday's edition of the Federal Register.

Here's what to watch for:

Passports: The State Department is moving forward with a rule that would give the agency the authority to issue passports to officials or employees of a state, local, tribal, or territorial government traveling abroad to carry out official duties that support the U.S. government.

Activities these officials take on, the agency said are often of pressing national security, law enforcement or humanitarian importance, and occur with little advance notice. The rule will take effect in 60 days. http://1.usa.gov/1e3WbW0

Temporary exports: The Commerce Department's Census Bureau issued a final rule amending the foreign trade regulations to eliminate the reporting requirement for temporary exports, including carnets and goods previously imported on a temporary import bonds.

Carnets are international customs and temporary export-import documents that are used to clear customs without paying duties and import taxes on merchandise that will be re-exported within 12 months.

The rule will take effect immediately. http://bit.ly/1E7Tvvp

 

NEWS RIGHT NOW

E. coli: A decline in infections from foodborne illnesses could point to successes in food safety practices, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. http://bit.ly/1EIKREe

Net neutrality: Companies like Dish and Cogent Communications want AT&T to follow net neutrality rules as a condition of its proposed merger with DirecTV, regardless of whether the new regulations are struck down in court, Mario Trujillo reports. http://bit.ly/1Hjoo7E

Train crash: A member of the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that an automated train control system that has been the subject of debate in Congress this year might have prevented this week's deadly Amtrak crash, Keith Laing reports. http://bit.ly/1H5PidE

Mine safety: The inspector general of the Labor Department is conducting an audit of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's handling of delinquent mine safety penalties, NPR reports. http://n.pr/1cBnjdO

Anti-LGBT discrimination: The town where Matthew Shepard was killed will be the first in Wyoming to pass an anti-LGBT discrimination measure, The Washington Post reports. http://wapo.st/1IDRzB8

 

BY THE NUMBERS

19,000: The number of infections from foodborne illnesses in 2014

4,400: The number of hospitalizations from foodborne illnesses in 2014.

71: the number of deaths from foodborne illnesses in 2014.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I learned long ago not to speak for other agencies," Brian King, acting deputy director for research translation for the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, said when asked if he knows when FDA will finalize its tobacco deeming regs.

 

We’ll work to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page (http://thehill.com/regulation) early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, tdevaney@thehill.com or lwheeler@thehill.com. And follow us at @timdevaney and@wheelerlydia.

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