Durbin Presses Acting FDA Commissioner Woodcock To Finish Review Of E-Cigarette Products

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today spoke with Acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Janet Woodcock to receive an update on yesterday’s announcement that FDA has rejected millions of e-cigarette applications for failing to show a public health benefit, but would delay a final decision on whether or not e-cigarette top sellers – like JUUL – can remain on the market. Durbin pressed Woodcock for swift action on JUUL and other flavored e-cigarette products that dominate the market and have ignited the youth vaping epidemic.

“I’m glad the agency is making progress in rejecting e-cigarettes that flagrantly targeted kids.  But FDA is missing the moment with yet another needless delay.  By failing to act on the largest e-cigarettes manufacturers who ignited the youth vaping epidemic, FDA’s announcement yesterday was largely a symbolic undertaking. Every day we wait for FDA decisions, more children get hooked,” Durbin said.

Facing a court-ordered deadline to complete review of e-cigarette applications by September 9, FDA yesterday provided a public “status update” on its progress with pre-market tobacco product applications (PMTAs).  FDA indicated it has reviewed and rejected 93 percent of the e-cigarette products so far—representing six million vaping products—and that it has not approved any products.  The remaining seven percent of applications include JUUL, Vuse, NJoy, and other flavored products that hold the largest market shares and are most popular with kids. Presently, an estimated 20 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, compared to four percent of adults.

In July, Durbin and Congressional colleagues introduced the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, which would hold e-cigarette companies accountable for the youth vaping crisis by requiring e-cigarette manufacturers to pay user fees to the FDA. These fees would provide the agency with additional resources to conduct stronger oversight of the e-cigarette industry and increase awareness of the danger of e-cigarettes. In June, Durbin testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing focused on the role of FDA in regulating e-cigarette products.

In October 2020, Durbin urged the FDA to strongly enforce its own regulations to protect kids from addictive e-cigarettes by publishing a list of products that submitted premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs), and remove products that did not submit PMTAs.

In 2019, Durbin and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced 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 would place strong restrictions on e-cigarette flavorings and ban cigar flavorings altogether.

For decades, Durbin has led Congressional efforts to investigate and regulate tobacco products, especially vaping and other e-cigarette devices.  In 2019, Durbin sent a series of letters to JUUL and Altria – which bought a majority stake in JUUL – about its marketing practices and product popularity amongst America’s youth.