Washington, D.C.—At a Health Committee hearing this morning on the public health threat posed by vaping, U.S. Senator Susan Collins urged Mitch Zeller, the Director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, to take stronger action to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors.
During the hearing, Senator Collins cited a study by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that calls into question a common misconception that e-cigarettes reduce the use of traditional cigarettes.
“Hasn't the rationale that's been given for e-cigarettes is that it will help people stop smoking?” Senator Collins asked Mr. Zeller. “And yet here we have a study that clearly states that teens who began using e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes.”
Mr. Zeller replied that e-cigarettes in a properly regulated marketplace could benefit some currently addicted cigarette smokers and that a balanced approach is needed. He acknowledged, however, that, “The imperative from a public health perspective is to not allow another generation of kids to become addicted to nicotine.”
In a recent interview on Maine Public, Eileen King of the Maine School Management Association said vaping is the number one concern for school administrators. Given that no e-cigarette products currently on the market are legal, Senator Collins questioned why the FDA has not exercised its enforcement authority to pursue manufacturers considering the harm that has been caused. Mr. Zeller assured Senator Collins that his agency takes the responsibility of protecting kids seriously, and he noted that companies with e-cigarette products on the market will have to file applications with the FDA by May of next year.
Senator Collins also relayed the concerns expressed by students and teachers that they were not warned that e-cigarettes were unsafe. She asked Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Principal Deputy Director at the CDC, to explain what specific resources are available to schools to highlight the dangers of vaping.
Senator Collins previously announced her support of the FDA’s plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products, and she is a cosponsor of a bill to remove flavored vaping products from the market as well as legislation to prevent online sales of electronic cigarettes to minors.