House Republicans Seek To Cut E-Cigarette Regulatory Funding For FDA

A controversial new bill approved by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee proposes to reduce the ability of the government to regulate e-cigarettes. 

House republicans are pushing to prevent FDA oversight on companies that sell e-cigs and other new tobacco products. However, many Democrats say this could allow products to remain on the market that could pose a risk of serious harm for children and other consumers.

If passed, the proposed legislation would prevent the FDA from requiring pre-market approval for e-cigarette products that are already on the market. Effectively, it would allow all e-cigarettes a pass on FDA safety review.

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The House subcommittee approved the measures Thursday, as part of a spending bill, and are sending it on for further approval by the full committee, the House, Senate and then the President.

Under a rule currently proposed by the FDA, electronic cigarettes marketed before February 2007 would have to undergo retroactive pre-market approval, in addition to pre-market approval requirements for all new e-cigarettes and vaping devices. If this is the case, companies would have to submit applications within two years of the rule being finalized.

The FDA would then review products to determine if they put the public at risk. If they do not meet that bar, they would be removed from the market.

Republicans argue that a pre-market review would be a lengthy, expensive process that could drive many companies out of business.

Alabama Representative Robert Aderholt, the bill’s sponsor, said the bill only seeks to have electronic cigarettes regulated in the same manner as tobacco. He also said it does not affect the FDA’s proposal to ban the sales of the products to minors and would still allow for other product standards.

Many groups, including six U.S. Senators, have called on the FDA to place stricter regulations on e-cigarettes. The American Heart Association also called for more stringent guidelines for the industry, since the devices are appealing to adults and children alike.

Eased Regulations, More Safety Concerns

The new legislation would apply to other unregulated tobacco products, including cigars, hookahs, nicotine gels, water pipes tobacco, and dissolvable tobacco products. The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco products.

Public health safety groups say the bill would disrupt the FDA’s ability to prevent tobacco companies from marketing new products to children.

Democrats say the bill would reduce regulation on the industry at a precarious time when many adults use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Recently the use of e-cigarettes has increased rapidly as a result.

Democrats also say the language of the House bill could keep products on the market that are targeted specifically toward teens, including cigars and e-cigarettes in candy-like fruit flavors, which new research has shown may cause respiratory health risks.

New research indicates e-cigarette use by teens increased threefold in 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that teens are increasingly vaping and millions of high school and middle school students are using the potentially dangerous devices.

Nita Lowey, New York Democratic representative and top Democrat of the Appropriations Committee, called the bill a giveaway to the tobacco industry.

The FDA’s proposed rules, which are expected to be finalized in a few months, are aimed at finally regulating the quickly growing e-cigarette industry. The tobacco companies downplay the effect the bill would have on the FDA’s regulatory authority. Yet, the FDA said the rules are important consumer protections.


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