Durbin Presses Trump Administration To Take Stronger Action To Protect Kids From E-Cigarette Addiction

WASHINGTON – Today, in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) FY19 budget request, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) pressed HHS Secretary Azar about how his agency plans to confront the rapid growth of e-cigarette and vaping use among youth in the United States. Durbin, while holding up e-cigarette packages and fruit- and candy-flavorings to show how the products are deliberately designed to appeal to children, criticized the administration for not taking this public health threat seriously enough as e-cigarette use skyrockets among young people. 

"Between 2011 and 2015, the use of e-cigarettes or vaping among high school kids increased ten-fold from 1.5 percent to 16 percent. In Illinois, 27 percent of students are using vaping devices and e-cigarettes,” Durbin said. “This is a galloping addiction and one that is affecting children across this country…the vigor and commitment of the tobacco industry to hook our kids is unmatched. I don’t think there is a sense of emergency in this administration yet for something that could end up being, sadly, part of your legacy – to have stood by and watched as these kids in America became hopelessly addicted to nicotine through these products.” 

Video of Durbin’s remarks in the hearing is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in the hearing is available here. 

Last month, in response to a letter from Durbin and his Senate colleagues, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to issue new enforcement actions against JUUL Labs, Inc.—which own 57 percent of the e-cigarette market share—and other e-cigarette companies, in order to better protect children and teens from using addictive and dangerous e-cigarettes. Durbin has pressed the FDA to immediately use its existing authority to remove any JUUL flavors—like their kid-popular mango flavor—that are currently on the market in violation of regulations. Durbin has further urged FDA to reconsider their decision to allow many of these products to remain on the market until 2022 without regulation. 

In 2015 alone, a record 3 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes, and in 2016, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used form of tobacco among teens