Durbin Announces Support For FDA Commissioner Nominee Dr. Stephen Hahn

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today, in a speech on the Senate floor, announced that he will vote to confirm Dr. Stephen Hahn, President Trump’s nominee to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Durbin expressed his hope that Dr. Hahn will use the full force of the FDA to take action on the youth vaping epidemic, and work to ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors, including mint and menthol.

“Dr. Hahn may find himself in a compromised position soon, and I told him as much.  If it comes to the point where the President has abandoned his effort against vaping, and the [vaping] industry is going to prevail, then I’m afraid Dr. Hahn will wear the collar for some of the things that follow,” Durbin said.  “Dr. Hahn said to me he doesn't want to be known in history as the head of the FDA who saw this epidemic grow dramatically when it comes to vaping by young people.  I’m going to give him my vote and I do it with the hope that he will have a persuasive voice with Sec. Azar and the Administration to move in the right direction.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Exactly three months ago on September 11, President Trump, the First Lady, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and then-Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration announced that the Trump Administration would ban all non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors, including mint and menthol, “within weeks.” Three months after the promise was made, the Administration has yet to implement an e-cigarette ban and has seemingly reversed course.

Five million children are now vaping, including one in four high school students—an increase of 135 percent over the past two years alone.  Between 2017 and 2018, America saw 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 30 percent of high-school children are vaping, compared with less than four percent of adults.  E-cigarette flavors—such as gummy bear, whipped cream, cool mint, fruit medley, and sugar cookie—are a major reason why children begin vaping.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2,000 people have been sickened by vaping related illnesses, with 48 deaths reported—including four in Illinois.  The illnesses have spread across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories (the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico).

In March, Durbin, along with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), 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.

In September, Durbin, along with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), urged FDA to immediately remove all pod- and cartridge-based e-cigarettes from the market, unless or until they can prove that they benefit the public health.