Collins seeks end to youth e-cigarette use

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) last week joined a bipartisan contingent in pressuring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address the nation’s escalating youth e-cigarette epidemic.

“Specifically, we urge you to bring much-needed public health oversight to these unregulated, addictive and kid-friendly tobacco products,” wrote Sen. Collins and 16 of her colleagues in a Feb. 13 letter sent to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn.

The effort, led by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), requested that Hahn comply with the FDA’s requirements to reject e-cigarette applications that do not protect public health by the FDA’s May 12 deadline for e-cigarette product review.

On May 12, all e-cigarette manufacturers will be required to submit product applications to the FDA prior to a market release. E-cigarette products may remain on the market while FDA determines whether to approve or reject the applications, and the agency has one year to make such determinations.

Sen. Collins and the group expressed concerns with the FDA’s oversight of e-cigarettes and tobacco products and pressed the agency for a science-based review that holds the industry accountable for products that contribute to the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

“As head of the FDA, your responsibility is to the American public, including, and most important, our nation’s children,” they wrote. “As you know, five million children are now vaping, including one in four high school students — an increase of 135 percent over the past two years alone … we do not believe that a product that has increased or is likely to increase youth use of nicotine or tobacco can meet the public health standard required under the [law].”

Additionally, Sen. Collins and her colleagues urged the FDA to remove from the market all tobacco products that are out of compliance with its Jan. 2 guidance or the May 12 deadline, including products that do not submit premarket tobacco product applications, flavored cartridge-based products, and products that appeal to or are targeted to minors.