Senate Democrats Call For Massive Regulatory Attack On E-Cigarettes

Elizabeth Warren Getty Images/Jennifer Graylock

Elizabeth Warren Getty Images/Jennifer Graylock

Senate Democrats are urging the White House Office ofManagement and Budget to finalize its review of a rule to regulatee-cigarettes.

The rules could transform the environment for e-cigarettes andthreaten the industry’s growth. Among thelegislators who the signed the letter were Sen. Elizabeth Warren , Sen. RichardBlumenthal , Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. DianneFeinstein.

Addressed to the OMB Director Shaun Donovan, thesenators wrote:

In the six years since the passage of the Tobacco Control Act,tobacco and e-cigarette companies have had time to develop new,innovative products, many with candy and fruit flavors, to attractand ultimately addict America’syouth…. It is critical that the Administrationtake swift and immediate action to finalize the tobacco deemingrule in order to reduce tobacco’s harmfuleffects on public health, and especially the health ofAmerica’s youth.

Their suggestions include clamping down on advertising, addingcompulsory health warnings, banning different flavors andintroducing a minimum age standard.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionclaims e-cigarette use has tripled among high school students from4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014.

Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the power toregulate tobacco in 2009 as part of the Family Smoking Preventionand Tobacco Control Act. In April 2014, the FDA published a draftof rules that would bring e-cigarettes and cigars under itssupervision but the rules have not yet been finalized.

The letter comes amid growing fears from the e-cig industry thatFDA regulations could all but wipe out theindustry. Most damaging of all, e-cigarettemakers will have to retroactively submit marketing applications forall their products, with the costs running into the millions.

Manufacturers of e-cigarettes could also be banned fromadvertising the reduced risk from substituting smoking forvaping unless they can convince the FDA otherwise.

The industry is still relatively young, with the firste-cigarette invented in China in 2007. Despite there being close to20 million Americans regularly using e-cigarettes, the FDA’sregulations could bankrupt the vast majority of producers.

Speaking to The Hill in August, JanVerleur, co-founder and CEO of VMR Products, said as much as 99percent of the industry could be wiped out. “This makes it soany product released after the grandfather date would requirepremarket approval,” said Verleur.

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