Senators Express Frustration with FDA for Slow Response to Vaping Hazards

November 15, 2019 by Tom Ramstack
A selection of the popular Juul brand vaping supplies on display in the window of a vaping store in New York on Saturday, March 24, 2018. A state judge has granted a preliminary injunction to halt Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's flavored vaping ban. (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS)

WASHINGTON — A Food and Drug Administration official told a U.S. Senate committee this week that new regulations to control vaping are likely coming soon, but couldn’t say when.

His testimony drew rebukes and words of frustration from members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“There is no final answer as of now,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.

Trump administration officials said in September that it would clamp down soon on the flavored e-cigarettes that are blamed for killing at least 40 people and sickening thousands with a respiratory illness.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are handheld battery-powered vaporizers that simulate smoking but without burning tobacco. Using an e-cigarette is known as “vaping.” 

The White House announcement said “the FDA intends to finalize a compliance policy in the coming weeks … clearing the market of non-authorized e-cigarette products …”

Some senators during a hearing Wednesday questioned whether the FDA was wavering under pressure from the e-cigarette industry.

“I think any questions about the current state of policy really needs to be directed to the White House,” Zeller said in response. “We are in a deliberative process. The White House made an announcement in September and we are working to advance a policy consistent with taking steps to do everything that we can to protect kids from these products.”

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., accused Zeller of either hiding or not knowing how the Trump administration plans to eliminate hazards of e-cigarettes.

Zeller replied, “There is no final answer on the policy question, that’s why we continue to have these discussions internally.”

Kaine suggested that further delays are dangerous.

“We should get an answer to this question about whether the administration is going to honor the policy that they announced or not,” Kaine said.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., told the FDA official, “You’ve had plenty of time already, and kids, people, Americans all over this country are being hurt.”

Anne Schuchat, a deputy director for the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), described how health officials are responding to health problems from e-cigarettes.

“As of November 5, 2019, there are 2051 confirmed and probable cases of [e-cigarette lung injuries] reported” in the United States,” Schuchat said.

“Most patients reported a gradual onset of difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or chest pain before hospitalization,” she said. “Some patients reported mild to moderate gastrointestinal illness. This lung condition is serious.”

The CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center in September. About 300 of its staff members are either investigating the lung illnesses or disseminating information about them to state health officials.

The CDC reported last week that vitamin E acetate is the most likely culprit in causing vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Most of the victims were teenage boys and young men.

The report was based on samples of lung fluid from 29 patients affected by the mysterious e-cigarette lung illness. Two of them died.

Vitamin E acetate was found in all samples. The substance is most commonly found in skin creams, where it is harmless.

U.S. Senate

Chilling Video Footage Becomes Key Exhibit in Trump Trial
Impeachment
Chilling Video Footage Becomes Key Exhibit in Trump Trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chilling security video of last month's deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, including of rioters searching menacingly for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, has become a key exhibit in Donald Trump's impeachment trial as lawmakers prosecuting the case wrap... Read More

Trump Fumes, GOP Senators Baffled by Legal Team's Debut
Impeachment
Trump Fumes, GOP Senators Baffled by Legal Team's Debut

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump fumed that his attorneys' performance on the opening day of his second impeachment trial was a disaster, as allies and Republican senators questioned the strategy and some called for yet another shakeup to his legal team.Trump, who was watching... Read More

Trump's Trial Starting: 'Grievous Crime' or Just 'Theater'?
Impeachment
Trump's Trial Starting: 'Grievous Crime' or Just 'Theater'?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate launches Donald Trump's historic second impeachment trial on Tuesday, with lawyers for the former president insisting he is not guilty of inciting mob violence at the Capitol to overturn the election while prosecutors say he must be convicted of the "most... Read More

CA Senate: Alex Padilla (D)
In The News
CA Senate: Alex Padilla (D)
February 8, 2021
by TWN Staff

About Padilla:  Alex Padilla, California’s then-secretary of state, was appointed to fill the Senate seat held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in late December 2020.  Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s selection of Padilla, a longtime friend and political ally, ended months of jockeying for the appointment among Democratic factions across the state.  It also made Padilla the first Latino senator from... Read More

Takeaways from Legal Filings for Trump's Impeachment Trial
Impeachment
Takeaways from Legal Filings for Trump's Impeachment Trial

WASHINGTON (AP) — The legal sparring around Donald Trump's impeachment trial is underway, with briefs filed this week laying out radically different positions ahead of next week's Senate trial. House prosecutors and the former president's defense team are putting forward their arguments about Trump's role in the Jan. 6... Read More

Senate Panel Considers Options For Confronting Climate Change
Climate
Senate Panel Considers Options For Confronting Climate Change
February 3, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee reviewed U.S. progress toward reducing climate change Wednesday to determine whether the nation is ready for President Joe Biden’s executive orders on environmental policy. The witnesses and senators spent much of their time discussing emissions from burning oil and coal as... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top