WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to finalize a proposed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule governing the regulation of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products. Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health, co-signed the letter.
Through the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, FDA has oversight authority over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. However, a rule proposed by FDA would formally assert the agency’s authority to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco. The proposed regulation would prohibit e-cigarette sales to minors, restrict vending machine sales, and require manufacturers to list ingredients and ensure that labeling is not false or misleading. Pallone applauded these measures along with additional oversight provisions within the proposed rule. However, he urged the agency to take further steps and regulate the use of flavorings and preventing companies from marketing e-cigarette products to children.
In the letter, Pallone wrote, “We are concerned that the longer we delay oversight of unregulated tobacco products—e-cigarettes and cigars, and pipe tobacco products—the more harm these products will cause to the health of our nation. For far too long, the tobacco industry has exploited loopholes and continued to market its products to children…we ask for your leadership in ensuring that the final deeming regulation does not exempt any tobacco products.”
Congressman Pallone has repeatedly drawn attention to the risks that tobacco products and nicotine pose to public health. Most recently, he called on the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban e-cigarettes on airplanes. He has also urged chain pharmacies across the country to stop selling tobacco, including e-cigarettes, and has consistently expressed serious concerns regarding the marketing tactics used by e-cigarette companies to appeal to younger people, such as through candy flavoring, cartoon images, and event sponsorships.
New Jersey has led the way, becoming the first state in the nation to ban the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places and their sale to those 19 and younger. Since then, multiple New Jersey municipalities and counties have considered broader bans that have been necessary in the absence of clear federal regulation through the FDA.