Durbin Meets With Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy

[WASHINGTON, DC]. – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with the newly confirmed Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy today to discuss public health priorities. Durbin was a strong supporter of Dr. Murthy during his confirmation process, praising him for his dedication to fighting obesity, tobacco related illness, and other chronic diseases. A photo of today’s meeting is available HERE. Durbin’s Floor Speech in support of Dr. Murthy’s confirmation is available HERE.

“As we’ve seen last year, health crises can arise quickly and a Surgeon General can make a real difference in assisting the government’s efforts to protect and inform the public,” Durbin said. “I was pleased to sit down with Dr. Murthy and talk about pressing public health issues, including tobacco use and the growing influence of the e-cigarette industry,” Durbin said. “I also invited Dr. Murthy to visit Illinois and discuss public health priorities; I look forward to welcoming him to our state in the near future.”


Curbing the use of tobacco products – especially by children and young people – has been one of Durbin’s priorities since he was first elected to Congress. Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes and e-cigs, are battery-operated products that simulate traditional cigarettes by converting cartridges of liquid typically filled with addictive nicotine, other additives, and flavorings into vapor inhaled by the user. Currently, e-cigarettes are not subject to federal laws and regulations that apply to traditional cigarettes, including a ban on marketing to youth. In 2012, more than 1.8 million middle and high school students tried an e-cigarette.

Last month, Durbin and Former U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent letters to 29 State Attorneys General applauding their ongoing efforts to press the FDA to use its enforcement discretion to prevent e-cigarette manufacturers from targeting teens. The full text of the letter is available here.

Durbin has also introduced numerous pieces of legislation on the issue, including Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act and the Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act, which prohibits the marketing of e-cigarettes to children and teens. 

One of Durbin’s upcoming public health priorities will be the continued and increased funding for biomedical research. In March of 2014, Durbin introduced the American Cures Act to support the future of research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defense Health Program (DHP), and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program.  The bill would reverse the decline in federal biomedical research by augmenting federal appropriations for biomedical research with a mandatory trust fund dedicated to steady growth in research conducted at NIH, CDC, DHP, and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program. Each year, the bill would increase funding for each agency and program at a rate of GDP-indexed inflation plus 5 percent. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.