Shaheen Responds to Trump Admin’s Steps Toward Banning Flavored E-Cigarettes, Calls on Health Agencies to Prioritize Action Investigating Deaths Related to the Devices

September 11, 2019

Shaheen and Hassan send letter with group of Senators led by Senators Jeff Merkley & Richard Blumenthal to health agencies about the public health crisis

 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s announcement that it would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

“I’m glad to see the administration heed our calls in Congress and listen to the warnings of medical experts about this health emergency – the surge in youth vaping is alarming and banning flavored e-cigarettes is an important first step to tackle this public health crisis,” said Shaheen. “In meetings with students, educators, law enforcement and health officials across New Hampshire, I’ve heard time and again about how this vaping crisis is impacting our communities, particularly young people. That’s why I’m making this a top priority in the Senate and will keep working to advance my bill that cracks down on these predatory e-cigarette companies and requires them to pay fees to the FDA so that the FDA can better regulate e-cigarettes and educate the public about the health risks tied to vaping devices.”

Earlier in the day, Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter to the heads of health agencies, demanding answers on their actions to address the health impacts of e-cigarette products, as illnesses and even deaths are increasingly linked to vaping. Already, six individuals have lost their lives to severe lung disease associated with vaping, and more than 450 individuals across 33 states have been diagnosed with illnesses linked to e-cigarette use. As e-cigarette companies target young people, the median age of patients diagnosed with these serious lung diseases is 19 years old. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a group of 20 Senators in the letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For years, we have written to you and your predecessors about the dangers of youth use of e-cigarettes, but public health agencies—particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—have failed to act swiftly and comprehensively to address the epidemic of youth use of addictive e-cigarette products,” the Senators wrote.

“…We believe the spike of more than 450 cases of severe lung disease in adolescents and young adults is a public health crisis that warrants more aggressive and immediate action,” the Senators continued. “This action should include the following: a strong, clear message to the public about what is currently known about the dangers of e-cigarette use; immediate removal from the market of e-cigarette products that have been linked or could be linked to the pulmonary illnesses and deaths; and FDA’s immediate enforcement of the required public health review of e-cigarette products with the authority granted to FDA under the Tobacco Control Act.”

Senator Shaheen has prioritized efforts in the Senate to tackle the youth vaping crisis. She’s leading legislation – the E-cigarette Youth Protection Act – which would require e-cigarette companies to help fund federal prevention efforts and regulate enforcement, and she’s held multiple meetings with students, education, law enforcement and health officials across the state about the ongoing public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 20.8 percent in 2018 – a nearly 1300% increase.

The letter can be read in full here.

Other cosigners of the letter include U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).