Senators Express Frustration with FDA for Slow Response to Vaping Hazards
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.
In The News
In The News
WASHINGTON -- The wind drove federal lawmakers Thursday to consider whether offshore turbines should become a major new source of... Read More
WASHINGTON -- The wind drove federal lawmakers Thursday to consider whether offshore turbines should become a major new source of electricity for American consumers. As environmentalists tried to convince a congressional panel that wind energy is a cost-effective investment, detractors said hidden expenses mean it’s not... Read More
WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice... Read More
WASHINGTON -- An FBI search of the Washington, D.C. home of a Russian oligarch this week is moving the Justice Department into the political minefield that comes from mixing foreign policy with legal enforcement. The FBI conducted what it called "law enforcement activity" at the home... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday it is set to approve a total of $554,150,641 for the... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday it is set to approve a total of $554,150,641 for the third round of funding in deployments of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The FCC previously announced over $1 billion in funding to winning bidders for new... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was joined by Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas,... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was joined by Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, on Wednesday in calling for yet another special legislative session to pass more conservative agenda items. The calls for a new special session come after Texas’... Read More
WASHINGTON - With Congressional Democrats reportedly within days of an agreement on a slimmed down reconciliation spending package, a well... Read More
WASHINGTON - With Congressional Democrats reportedly within days of an agreement on a slimmed down reconciliation spending package, a well known independent budget hawk is urging them not to resort to “blatant budget gimmicks” to move the initiative toward passage. Specifically, Maya MacGuineas, president of the... Read More
WASHINGTON – Less than 24 hours after Senate Republicans blocked debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, Majority Leader Chuck... Read More
WASHINGTON – Less than 24 hours after Senate Republicans blocked debate on the Freedom to Vote Act, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he’ll advance another voting rights bill to the floor of the chamber as early as next week. However, he did not say whether... Read More