Oversight Committee urges FDA to ban e-cigarettes, vaping over coronavirus risks

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The House Oversight Committee urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a letter on Wednesday to "clear the market" of e-cigarettes, which makes smokers more susceptible to contracting coronavirus.

Lawmakers worry that smoking could quicken the spread of COVID-19 and have a chain effect on the already strained health care system by introducing more patients to overflowing hospitals and ultimately endangering the public as the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen.

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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warned Americans that “because it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco … or who vape,” and smokers and vapers “could find themselves at increased risk of COVID-19 and its more serious complications.”

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, pointed to the severe lack of protective equipment for health care workers -- including N95 respirator masks and shortage of ventilators for coronavirus patients -- as further reasons to ban e-cigarettes and vapes.

"Reducing the number of smokers and vapers that fall ill with coronavirus will not only help them but the entire health system," Krishnamoorthi wrote.

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Currently, the U.S. is struggling to contain the spread of coronavirus. Despite statewide bans on large gatherings, school closures, bars and restaurants shuttering and mandates for all but essential workers to stay at home and practice social distancing, the U.S. has 209,071 cases of COVID-19 and 4,633 people have died.