US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin, Senate Democrats Call For Administration to Finalize Regulations For Tobacco Products

Agency Responsible For Reviewing Regulations, Including for E-Cigarettes and E-Hookahs, For These New Nicotine Products Has Failed To Meet 120-Day Deadline

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ed Markey (D-MA) on a letter this week calling on the Administration to review and finalize regulations for e-cigarettes and e-hookahs without further delay. By Executive Order, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has 90 days to complete review of regulations, with a possible extension of no more than 30 days. The agency has failed to meet this deadline.

March 10, 2014

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest

Washington, District of Columbia 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to thank you for your continued efforts in combating youth tobacco use, as demonstrated in your proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Budget. In light of the novel products that threaten to addict more youth to nicotine, we ask you to urge the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to swiftly release the deeming regulations that it received on October 1, 2013. We are particularly concerned about the risk of addiction posed by new nicotine-based products such as e-cigarettes and “e-hookahs”. 

By Executive Order, OIRA has 90 days to complete review of regulations, with a possible extension of no more than 30 days. We are well past that. While we understand that OIRA is dealing with a number of deadlines, we urge you not to compound the delays that have already occurred over the years since the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. Each day, more than 3,000 children try a cigarette for the first time and 700 become daily smokers. Subsequently, the growing prevalence of use of e-cigarettes among young people also raises grave concerns about early addiction to nicotine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that from 2011 to 2012, there was a significant increase in the use of e-cigarettes by both middle and high school students. The percentage of reported use in both categories nearly doubled during that time period, rising from 0.6% to 1.1% among middle school students and from 1.5% to 2.8% among high school students. Further, recent news reports suggest that these alarming statistics may underestimate the extent of e-cigarette use among teens because many young people do not equate products like e-hookahs and vaping pens with e-cigarettes. Concern regarding e-cigarette use among youth is compounded by mounting evidence that the e-cigarettes are marketed in ways that target children and teens, such as with the use of bright colors, cartoons, and appealing flavors. The public health concerns related to e-cigarettes and evidence of marketing these addictive products to youth demonstrate the need for greater regulatory oversight. We urge you to ask OIRA to review and release the deeming regulations as quickly as possible to help clarify the regulatory environment around these products.

Many of us have spoken with Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitch Zeller about the urgent need for deeming regulations. We were pleased to see the proposed regulations move from their jurisdiction to OIRA. We hope that you will prioritize the review of these regulations so that we work together to advance appropriate regulatory oversight of e-cigarettes.

Sincerely,

TOM HARKIN

United States Senate                                       


RICHARD BLUMENTHAL                                         

United States Senate


BARBARA BOXER

United States Senate


RICHARD J. DURBIN

United States Senate


SHERROD BROWN

United States Senate


EDWARD J. MARKEY

United States Senate

 

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