Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

FDA E-Cig Regulations Disappoint Democrats, Cheer Industry

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Several Democratic lawmakers who have pushed for the FDA to draft e-cig regulations to treat the electronic cigarettes like their traditional counterparts aren’t happy.

A group led by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and House Energy and Commerce Ranking Democrat Henry Waxman of California had issued a report last week blasting marketing practices by the e-cig industry.

Durbin and Waxman argued in a conference call last week that the Food and Drug Administration could use existing legal authority to treat the electronic products like tobacco. The FDA’s proposed regulations released today stops well short of that, although it would ban the sale of the product to children.

“Today, after years of waiting for the FDA to act, we are extremely disappointed by its failure to take comprehensive action to prevent e-cigarette companies from continuing to deploy marketing tactics aimed at luring children and teenagers into a candy-flavored nicotine addiction. Prohibiting sales of these products to minors is a positive step, but it isn’t enough,” a group of report backers said Thursday. “As long as e-cigarette companies continue to take pages from Big Tobacco’s old and cynical marketing playbook, our children will remain vulnerable to the grave dangers of nicotine addiction.”

The statement came from Sens. Durbin, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., joined the statement on the House side.

An electronic cigarette trade group responded much more positively than either the Durbin-Waxman group or the American Heart Association.

“It will take some time to analyze the potential impact of these proposed rules in a meaningful way. However, it is our long-held position that common sense regulation should restrict underage access while treating electronic cigarettes as a distinct new technology — one that is radically different from combustible cigarettes,” Electronic Cigarette Industry Group President and CEO Eric Criss said in his own statement. “To the extent FDA has taken such an approach, we believe this proposal is potentially a step in the right direction.”

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