Congress considers removal of FDA oversight to e-cigarettes

Pro-vaping provision attached to spending plan

Two proposals before Congress would remove FDA oversight from the e-cigarette industry.

One, which is attached as a rider to budget, would exempt thousands of vaping devices currently on the market from Food and Drug Administration approval. The spending measure must pass by midnight Friday to avert a government shutdown.

The second proposed bill would soften the approval process. “The Cigarette Smoking and Electronic Vapor Alternatives Act of 2017” would reverse the Obama administration’s “Deeming Rule,” which categorized e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The bill would exempt vaping devices from that review and other rules.
Critics of the FDA’s deeming rule say it is harmful to industry because the approval process is too slow and expensive.

Supporters of the FDA’s deeming rule say it protects public safety.

“I think it is a logical idea and one that has real compelling scientific and public health justifications,” says Dr. Doug Jorenby, director of clinical services for the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

Dr. Jorenby has been overseeing a five-year study looking at the health effect on individuals who smoke cigarettes and use a vaping device.

He says the FDA oversight on the e-cigarette industry has helped discover contaminants in e-juices and investigate safety concerns associated with exploding batteries in vaping devices.

“And then there’s the long-term and, at this point, largely unknown affects. Are there unique health hazards associated with vaping?” said Dr. Jorenby.

He believes history proves it is better to do the research and discover any health risks sooner rather than later.

“In some sense, the public health community really felt burned by low-tar cigarettes that were presented in the 50’s and 60’s as a boon to public health. If anything, they turned out to be a polar opposite of that,” said Dr Jorenby. “So the sense of not knowing, of not asking the question in the first place is not something that has a good track record.”