Schumer wants FDA to close e-cigarette loophole after 8th reported death

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

Nationwide citizens have fallen ill or died from e-cigarettes use, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, but despite support from President Donald Trump’s administration to ban non-tobacco flavored devices marketed to kids, an FDA loophole could result in the law being moot.

Current loopholes allow tobacco companies to simply reintroduce the enticing kiddy-flavored items back into the market at a later time with a formal application to the Food and Drug Administration, according to Schumer.

“There is no doubt that as the FDA finalizes a ban on kid-friendly e-cigs that the agency will be met with intense pressure by the industry to water it down as much as possible, so the message to the FDA today is: do not cave,” said Schumer. “If we are going to tackle the all-out epidemic of youth vaping and the flavor explosion fueling addiction and related health issues, the feds cannot go vanilla on a flavor ban.”

In 2017, 6.6 percent of adults or 437,000 adults citywide used an e-cigarette in the past 12 months, according to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In Queens, 6.3 percent of adults or 112,000 adults used an e-cigarette in the past 12 months.

Among public high school students in 2017, 17.3 percent citywide or 45,000 pupils used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, according to the Dept. of Health. In Queens, 17.8 percent of public high school students or 12,000 pupils used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.

In Missouri, the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services declared a man in his mid-40s dead in August from respiratory problems. He had started vaping in May. He was the eighth person to have his death linked to e-cigs.

Earlier this month the CDC confirmed that 530 people had lung injuries as a result of vaping.

“Bubble gum, cookies and cream, gummy bear, a medley of fruits, candies, and mints have one purpose when combined with an e-cig: hook kids,” Schumer added about the battery-operated cigarettes. “Those flavors shouldn’t be on shelves, and so the federal ban needs to be framed around that premise or it won’t be as effective, and it will easily circumvent local bans that states are proposing and passing.”

Despite being touted as a safer alternative to cigarettes, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some higher voltage e-cigarettes can contain cancer-causing formaldehyde at levels up to fifteen times more than regular cigarettes. In addition, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a chemical that has been shown to have negative health impacts on adolescent brain development.

Impulse control and mood disorders are some of the problems adolescents can develop in adulthood, according to the Surgeon General.

The FDA has “to get it right the first time,” said Schumer. “That means limiting and tightening exemptions so companies can’t escape the intent of the policy and bring us right back to square one months down the road.”  

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