VIDEO: Udall Presses FDA Commissioner To Enact Strong Protections To Address Epidemic Of Youth E-Cigarette Use

VIDEO: Udall Presses FDA Commissioner To Enact Strong Protections To Address Epidemic Of Youth E-Cigarette Use

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), questioned U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on the alarming national increase of high school students using e-cigarettes and pressed the commissioner to take meaningful action to address the epidemic.

“I am pleased that this budget gives additional funding to help evaluate e-cigarettes – but I remain deeply concerned about the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes by our nation’s youth. CDC survey data showed an astounding 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018,” Udall said in a hearing to review the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget for FDA. “In my home state of New Mexico, 51.5 percent of teens have used e-cigarettes.  This is significantly higher than the national average of 42.2 percent. The U.S. Surgeon General has said e-cigarette smoking among youth has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions. I fear that these products, especially flavored e-cigarettes, are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.”

“I applaud you for raising the alarm about this epidemic. However, I have been clear with you that I believe FDA must take more aggressive steps to effectively address this pressing public health concern.  If new CDC survey data reveal that youth e-cigarette use does not decline in 2019, do you agree an appropriate next step is to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market until they undergo review by the FDA?” Udall asked.

Gottlieb agreed that certain products would warrant further review if youth e-cigarette usage continues to increase dramatically next year. Udall also asked Commissioner Gottlieb if Congress could expect and new policies for flavored e-cigarettes before Gottlieb leaves office at the end of March.

Commissioner Gottlieb said he was very confident that proposed regulations, including barring the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in settings that are easily accessible to youth will be finalized and has the support of the administration. “We will continue to make tobacco policy right out the door,” Gottlieb said.

“As a state Attorney General, we sued the tobacco companies, and our strongest case was that they were addicting young people. They had the studies and said, ‘if you addict young people then you get a smoker for life,’ and I think that’s what they are doing here. I’m glad you are on top of it. I hope you’ll be as aggressive as you can before you leave because I think we are in the middle of an epidemic and I think we really need to do something about it,” Udall said.

Udall has helped lead numerous efforts in Congress to protect children from the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.

  • In April 2018, Udall and his colleagues wrote to both the FDA and JUUL Labs about the growing vaping abuse crisis among youth.
  • In June 2018, they wrote again demanding answers from the FDA on the agency’s enforcement of current tobacco regulations and urging it to reconsider its decision to push back e-cigarette regulation.
  • In October 2018, Udall and his colleagues called on the FDA to take stronger action to reduce youth use of addictive e-cigarettes by immediately requiring manufacturers to remove kid-appealing flavored e-cigarettes from the market.
  • In November 2018, Udall introduced the Smoke Free Schools Act of 2018 to help school districts and local education agencies combat the surge of e-cigarette use in schools. The legislation would ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities, and clarify that state and local education agencies can use grant funding for e-cigarette prevention programs. It would also instruct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Education to study best practices for schools to implement policies to address rising e-cigarette use among students and gaps in knowledge about the potential dangers of e-cigarette use among youth and young adults.