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Senators Shaheen, Hassan Criticize Flawed E-Cigarette Policy, Call for Action From New FDA Commissioner

Senators: “FDA’s recently announced compliance policy fails to prioritize children, families, and the public health ahead of industry objections”

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined their colleagues in sending a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn criticizing the FDA’s decision to break the Trump Administration’s promise to remove non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette products from the market by moving forward with a policy that includes exceptions for menthol-flavored products and any flavored e-liquids that are not in cartridges. 

“We are deeply disappointed with the Trump Administration’s stark reversal from its September 11, 2019 commitment to clear the market of all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes. On January 2, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it intends to leave all tobacco- and menthol-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and all flavors of e-liquids for “open tank” ENDS on the market. These products have not undergone a scientific review by FDA of their impact on public health. Leaving them on the market will place millions of children at risk of addiction. As the newly confirmed FDA Commissioner, you have the opportunity – and the obligation – to take meaningful action to address the ongoing youth vaping crisis. FDA’s recently announced compliance policy fails to prioritize children, families, and the public health ahead of industry objections. We strongly urge you to abandon this policy and instead implement the proposal President Trump and his Administration promised in September,” wrote the Senators

Senators Hassan and Shaheen have prioritized efforts in the Senate to address the growing public health crisis of youth tobacco use. Over the past year, the Senators have repeatedly pressed the Trump administration to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market and called out the administration's delayed action to fully implement the planned restrictions on flavored products. In the nomination hearing for new FDA Commissioner Dr. Hahn, Senator Hassan pressed him on putting science ahead of politics and corporate special interests, especially when it comes to the opioid crisis and youth e-cigarette use. She also called for the public disclosure of all meetings between FDA and Juul, as well as any data FDA receives from companies like Juul related to youth e-cigarette use. Senator Hassan also helped to promote National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, highlighting the leadership of Manchester students in ensuring that vaping devices and accessories could be accepted. 

Senator Shaheen has led legislation – the E-Cigarette Youth Protection Act – which would require e-cigarette companies to pay fees to the FDA to help fund federal prevention efforts and ensure that the agency has the resources needed to conduct enforcement actions against e-cigarette manufacturers. She’s also held multiple meetings with students, educators, law enforcement and health officials across the state about the ongoing public health concern. In September, Shaheen introduced the No Tax Subsidies for E-Cigarette and Tobacco Ads Act, which would close a tax loophole that allows manufacturers to claim federal tax deductions for the cost of advertising e-cigarettes and tobacco products. She also helped introduce the E-Cigarette Device Standards Act of 2019, which would set safety standards in the design of e-cigarette and vaping devices to prevent the use of e-cigarettes to vape Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—a combination that has been linked to the vast majority of vaping illnesses. 

The full letter can be read here.