October 29, 2018

Wyden, Durbin, Murray & Colleagues Urge FDA to Protect Kids from Tobacco Use and Addiction

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., today led a group of their colleagues in calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take stronger action to reduce youth use of addictive electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) by immediately requiring manufacturers to remove kid-appealing flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

More than two million middle and high-schoolers are using e-cigarettes today, making them the most popular form of tobacco product among youth—with 81 percent of kids who have ever tried an e-cigarette starting with a flavored product. The FDA on September 12, 2018 requested that the five largest e-cigarette manufacturers provide “robust plans” to reduce youth use within 60 days.

The lawmakers urged FDA to take immediate and stronger action, stating: “[W]e remain unconvinced that voluntary, self-policing by e-cigarette companies will be sufficient for addressing this burgeoning public health epidemic. It is imperative that FDA exercise its existing authority and take immediate, strong action to protect our nation’s youth from a lifetime of addiction.”

In addition to urging for flavored e-cigarettes to be removed from the market, the lawmakers also requested FDA make public the information it receives from the five e-cigarette manufacturers in response to the agency’s September 12 request.

“For a product that delivers highly addictive nicotine, the burden of proof should lie with the manufacturer to demonstrate to FDA its appropriateness for public health and the marketplace. And yet rather than conducting clinical trials, the e-cigarette companies have developed kid-appealing flavors and sleek devices and devoted resources to marketing their products to youth,” the lawmakers wrote. “As a result of its inaction, FDA has placed a cohort of teens at risk for a lifelong addiction, as well as put them at increased risk for using cigarettes. The FDA needs to take action, and fast.”

Wyden, Durbin, and Murray were joined by Senators Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Maggie Hassan, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Udall, Tammy Duckworth, Jack Reed, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley and Kirsten Gillibrand in sending the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.