Durbin Meets with New Director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) Director Dr. Brian King, to discuss FDA’s long-standing failure to use its authority to effectively and efficiently regulate the e-cigarette and synthetic nicotine marketplace, which has led to dramatic increases in youth use of tobacco products. During the meeting, Durbin expressed hope that Dr. King, just a few months into his tenure at FDA, would bring a new urgency and commitment to protecting the public health, especially children, from the harms of nicotine use and addiction. 

“For years, FDA has failed our children by allowing fruit- and candy-flavored vaping products to remain on the market without authorization,” said Durbin. “Anyone in a position of power at FDA must feel a deep sense of responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all Americans, especially our nation’s children. Given Dr. King’s previous position at CDC and his decade of work to bring attention to the youth vaping epidemic, I am hopeful he implements the necessary changes at FDA to finally properly regulate the e-cigarette and synthetic nicotine marketplace. Our children are depending on him.”

A photo of the meeting is available here.

Earlier this month, Durbin sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra condemning FDA for its failure to meet e-cigarette and synthetic nicotine deadlines, as mandated by Congress and the courts. The court-ordered deadline for FDA to finish reviewing e-cigarette applications was September 9, 2021, more than one year ago, and yet the agency has only completed reviews of about half of those e-cigarettes with submitted applications that represent a large share of the market—leaving dangerous, kid-friendly e-cigarettes, like JUUL, available on store shelves to hook children.  Further, the congressionally-mandated deadline for FDA to regulate synthetic nicotine products—such as PuffBar—was July 13, 2022, more than two months ago. And yet, to date, these products remain on the market, without authorization, in violation of the law.

In the period of time during which the FDA has defied a court order to regulate all e-cigarettes on the market, the Truth Initiative estimates that nearly two and a half million children and young adults have begun using vaping products.