The Senate on Thursday confirmed President Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a 72-18 vote.
Stephen Hahn, a cancer doctor from Texas, joins the agency at a challenging time as it tries to find a solution to rising youth vaping rates.
While the Trump administration announced it would clear the market of flavored e-cigarette products in September, the president has since said he wants to find a compromise that preserves flavors for adults while keeping them from children.
The FDA is facing pressure from public health groups to follow through on the ban, arguing flavors are fueling a youth vaping epidemic.
Hahn hasn’t commented on whether he would clear the market of flavors if confirmed as FDA commissioner. But his assurances that he would take the issue seriously were enough to garner votes from Senate Democrats who are typically wary of Trump’s nominees.
“Dr. Hahn said to me he doesn’t want to be known in history as the head of the FDA who saw this epidemic grow dramatically when it comes to vaping by young people,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “I’m going to give him my vote and I do it with the hope that he will have a persuasive voice with [Health Secretary Alex] Azar and the Administration to move in the right direction.”
Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, was among the Democratic “no” votes, along with Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).