More than 30 Senate Democrats on Monday criticized the Trump administration’s new vaping ban for exempting menthol flavored e-cigarettes and any e-liquids that are not in a cartridge.
In a letter to newly appointed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn, the 31 Democrats, led by Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), said the omissions in the policy will place millions of children at risk of addiction.
“The newly announced e-cigarette flavors policy, which represents an alarming reversal from what the Administration promised, is weak and unlikely to have a meaningful impact on e-cigarette use by youth,” the Democrats wrote.
Under the policy unveiled by the FDA on Jan. 2, the administration will strip the market of popular fruit and mint pod-based flavors, but not tobacco and menthol. Pod-based products, like those manufactured by Juul and NJOY, are the most popular with teens.
Open tank systems, which are commonly found in vaping shops and not as popular with young people, will be exempt from the policy, even though they use flavored “e-liquids.” The FDA will also allow single-use devices to continue being sold.
The open-tank and single-use devices that the administration will leave on the market have not undergone an FDA review and are still on the market illegally.
The policy is meant to combat a surge in youth vaping, but is a retreat from the comprehensive vaping ban announced by President Trump and top health officials in September.
The Democratic senators called on Hahn to scrap the new policy and instead implement Trump’s earlier pledge to “clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.”
“As the newly confirmed FDA Commissioner, you have the opportunity—and the obligation—to take meaningful action to address the ongoing youth vaping crisis. FDA’s recently announced compliance policy fails to prioritize children, families, and the public health ahead of industry objections,” the senators wrote.
They also asked the FDA to clarify the definition of mint and menthol, amid concerns that tobacco companies could simply change the labeling on their products to sidestep the flavor ban.