Durbin: Vaping Targets Kids

WASHINGTON – Today, following the death of a sixth person linked to vaping, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) again called on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless to take decisive action immediately to properly regulate e-cigarettes and the accompanying kid-friendly flavors and products.  Durbin noted that the FDA has the authority to remove e-cigarette products and kid-friendly flavors – such as unicorn milk, bubblegum, and razzelberry – from the market today, as has been recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA). Durbin also slammed JUUL for its aggressive marketing campaign aimed at children and its unsubstantiated health claims that its products are safe alternatives to tobacco cigarettes.

“It's a new school year, and many of these students are heading off to middle schools and high schools with new backpacks, new laptops, new lockers, new teachers, new classrooms, new friends, and a new addiction. The addiction of vaping. Vaping targets kids,” Durbin said.  “Will [FDA] go the next step in warning America's schools, teachers, families, and children about this epidemic and the deadly consequences of ignoring it? Will they take these products off the market this week? That's my challenge to them and every American parent who dearly loves their child and cares about their health; I hope [they] will join me in this effort urging this Administration to take decisive action to protect the kids across America.”

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.

Yesterday, the AMA—the nation’s largest organization representing doctors—issued a warning to the public to stop using e-cigarette products until health officials further investigate and understand the causes of these illnesses. Further, the AMA called on FDA to immediately ban e-cigarette flavors and remove all unapproved vaping devices from the market.

Last week, Durbin sent a letter to Acting Commissioner Sharpless that stated if he failed to act within ten days, Durbin will call for his resignation.  Durbin also called for Acting Commissioner Sharpless to send a letter to all schools in America warning of the health consequences associated with vaping, and asking each school to ensure this message is conveyed to parents and students alike; immediately ban all e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco; and immediately ban all e-cigarette devices that have not been approved for sale by the FDA, and ensure their immediate removal from stores nationwide.

To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 450 cases of severe respiratory illness among people using e-cigarettes in 33 states, as well as six deaths (in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and California). 

To date, Illinois has 42 confirmed cases of vaping-related lung illness, and one death, across 17 different counties, with 26 more cases being investigated as probable.  The median age of vaping-related illness in Illinois is 22 years old.  And 76 percent of the Illinois patients needed to be placed in an intensive care unit (ICU), and 41 percent of the patients were mechanically ventilated.

Over the past year alone, America has seen 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 four million children are vaping.

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.

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