FDA to soon control e-cigarette use
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will soon control the use of e-cigarettes, the agency announced Thursday.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told senators at a Congressional budget hearing that they are "pushing very hard" to enact this new rule and that the proposal would be ready "very soon."
The White House's Office of Management and Budget, which reviews potential regulations to assess their economic impact, is currently reviewing the plan.
But for public health advocates, the new rule could not come fast enough.
"Four years and four months to get the first draft over to OMB is unacceptable," said Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, according to Reuters. For OMB to sit on it for months, he added, "is unacceptable."
Merkley also told Hamburg that the agency's delays were "disgraceful," noting that e-cigarette companies have "an insidious strategy to addict our children to nicotine" using flavored products like fruit, mint and chocolate.
The battery-operated device delivers users a hit of nicotine in vapor form without the carbon monoxide or tars that come with traditional tobacco. The CDC estimates that 10 percent of American high school students and nearly 3 percent of middle school students used e-cigarettes in 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In 2009, the FDA was granted the authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, as well as justly "deem" other tobacco products to be within its jurisdiction.
This pending ruling is curious in light of a recent report claiming that e-cigarettes are harmful for reasons unrelated to tobacco and smoking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in a report that the devices themselves or the liquid nicotine that goes into them cause injury to eyes, skin or other body parts.
"This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes -- the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden. "Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue."