09.22.19

SCHUMER: FLAVORED E-CIG BAN BEING FINALIZED RIGHT NOW COULD INCLUDE MAJOR LOOPHOLE; COMPANIES COULD APPLY FOR EXEMPTION; SENATOR INSISTS EXEMPTION RULE BE VERY TIGHT SO COMPANIES CAN’T ESCAPE BAN AND PUT US RIGHT BACK TO SQUARE ONE

Schumer Has Long Pushed For A Ban On Flavored E-Cigs That Trap Kids And Hook Them Fast With Dangerous Levels Of Nicotine; But Now, Ban Being Baked By Feds Could Have Wide Loophole That Allows For Companies To Reapply With FDA & Could Negate The Point Of A Ban In The First Place

With Dozens Of New Yorkers Sickened By Vape Products & Young People All-Out Addicted To Flavors, Schumer Says Close Loophole Now, Not After New Rule Is Final

Schumer: Feds Can’t Go Vanilla On Flavor Ban If They Want It To Actually Work  

Just as the Trump administration bakes a ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related sicknesses and deaths, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is sounding the alarm on an already-known loophole companies could use to work around a ban. Schumer said it is widely public that companies may be able to reintroduce their flavors at a later date, so long as they submit a formal application and receive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Schumer says the looming ban rule could have other exemptions that water down the desired intent, too. He demanded the FDA do this right the first time and make any exemptions very tight.

“There is no doubt that as the FDA finalizes a ban on kid-friendly e-cigs that the agency will be met with intense pressure by the industry to water it down as much as possible, so the message to the FDA today is: do not cave,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “If we are going to tackle the all-out epidemic of youth vaping and the flavor explosion fueling addiction and related health issues, the feds cannot go vanilla on a flavor ban. They have to get it right the first time. And that means limiting and tightening exemptions so companies can’t escape the intent of the policy and bring us right back to square one months down the road."

Schumer, who has a long history of railing against e-cig flavor trapping, has even stood with NY teens who detailed their addictions, and says that if the feds want this plan to actually work, they need to restrict the possibility of getting around it. Schumer made his case while detailing the most egregious flavors that should never be allowed on any shelf, no exceptions or exemptions.

“Bubble gum, cookies and cream, gummy bear, a medley of fruits, candies, and mints have one purpose when combined with an e-cig: hook kids,” Schumer added. “Those flavors shouldn’t be on shelves, and so the federal ban needs to be framed around that premise or it won’t be as effective, and it will easily circumvent local bans that states are proposing and passing."

The forthcoming FDA compliance policy will prioritize enforcement of ‘premarket authorization requirements’ for non-tobacco flavored e-cigs. Schumer says it’s the way the FDA settles on the broad definition of ‘authorization’ that matters. Schumer says that while the FDA plans to share more information with him on the details of the finalized ban in the coming weeks, he is adding to the ‘suggestion box’ preemptively given the administration’s general lean toward industry over consumers. Schumer wants to ensure that what are called Premarket Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs) appropriately consider the current health crisis that has resulted in hundreds of cases of lung injury and a number of deaths. The FDA currently says its forthcoming plan will “codify the procedures by which the FDA will review, establish and require” manufacturers to act and what records they must keep. Schumer says all these semantics matter and the broad scope of this effort cannot be allowed to lose its intent: getting the most egregious kid-friendly flavors out of the marketplace. By signaling to the FDA before the plan is finalized, Schumer says advocates can help push the agency to get things right out the gate.    

Earlier this year, Schumer was successful in a push to get the outgoing FDA Commissioner to take action on kid-friendly e-cig flavors domestically.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that are designed to resemble traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes contain a mechanism inside the device that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor that users then inhale and exhale. Unlike conventional cigarettes, however, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, a key difference that has led some to deem e-cigarettes safer to smoke. Yet, not all health risks are known, and some studies have highlighted the dangers of e-cigarettes. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some higher voltage e-cigarettes can contain cancer-causing formaldehyde at levels up to fifteen times more than regular cigarettes. In addition, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a chemical that has been shown to have negative health impacts on adolescent brain development. According to the Surgeon General, the effects of nicotine exposure during youth and young adulthood can be long-lasting and can include lower impulse control and mood disorders. The nicotine in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can prime young brains for addiction to other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Moreover, youth who use a tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, are more likely to go on to use other tobacco products, like conventional cigarettes, according to experts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that youth tobacco use has reached its highest level in years due to an increase in e-cigarette popularity, which has reversed progress on the use of products that contain nicotine. While the overall proportion of high school students using tobacco products fell in recent years, there has been an increase in reported e-cigarette use, which doubled from 11.7 percent to 20.8 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the CDC. This means that there were a staggering 1.5 million more youth e-cigarette users in 2018 than 2017. Last year, the rate of overall tobacco use among high school students jumped from 19.6 percent to 27.1 percent, and increase of 7.5 percent that is largely attributed to e-cigarette use.

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