U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, says he welcomes the announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it will take steps to ban all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes:
Speaking on the Senate floor, Durbin commended the FDA for “finally announcing” it would use its authority to remove e-cigarette products and kid-friendly flavors – such as mint, menthol, unicorn milk, bubblegum, and razzelberry – from the market.
“We are making it clear in the United States of America that we know that vaping targets kids. We know that these targeted kids are risking their health and their life by continuing to use e-cigarettes and vaping, and with this Administration today, on a bipartisan basis, we are banning these flavor pods once and for all,” Durbin said.
Yesterday, the American Medical Association —the nation’s largest organization representing doctors—issued a warning to the public to stop using e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the causes of these illnesses. Further, the AMA called on FDA to immediately ban e-cigarette flavors and remove all unapproved vaping devices from the market.
Last week, Durbin sent a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless that stated if he failed to act within 10 days, Durbin will call for his resignation. Durbin also called for Sharpless to send a letter to all schools in America warning of the health consequences associated with vaping, and asking each school to ensure this message is conveyed to parents and students alike; immediately ban all e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco; and immediately ban all e-cigarette devices that have not been approved for sale by the FDA, and ensure their immediate removal from stores nationwide.
To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 450 cases of severe respiratory illness among people using e-cigarettes in 33 states, as well as six deaths (in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and California).
To date, Illinois has 42 confirmed cases of vaping-related lung illness, and one death, across 17 different counties, with 26 more cases being investigated as probable. The median age of vaping-related illness in Illinois is 22 years old. And 76 percent of the Illinois patients needed to be placed in an intensive care unit, and 41 percent of the patients were mechanically ventilated.
Over the past year alone, America has seen a 78 percent increase in the number of high-school children using e-cigarettes, and a 48 percent increase in the number of middle-school children using these addictive and dangerous products. Today, nearly four million children are vaping.
In March, Durbin, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jamie Raskin, D-Md., reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings in highly-addictive e-cigarettes and cigars. The Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act will place strong restrictions on e-cigarette flavorings and ban cigar flavorings altogether.