Congressional Republicans blocked an amendment to a bill that would subject electronic cigarettes (or “e-cigarettes”) to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) review process.
The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers struck down the amendment in Congress on Wednesday in a 26-23 vote. The bill in question would fund the FDA as well as the Department of Agriculture (DA). The amendment was proposed by New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D), who wanted to remove the exemption of e-cigarettes to the FDA pre-market review process found in the bill.
Lowey was none-too-pleased with the decision, calling it “objectionable.”
“This bill would allow [e-cigarettes] to stay on the market…without an FDA pre-market review and open the door for similar products to avoid FDA review down the road,” Lowey said.
Curiously, the FDA has been vocal in its desire to regulate the e-cigarettes industry since its growth over the past decade or so. Last year, the FDA announced it would draw up new rules for e-cigarettes, such as forcing manufacturers to place warning labels on the products and banning sales to people under the age of 18, which is the current legal age for buying tobacco products. E-cigarette manufacturers will also not be permitted to market their products with approval from the FDA.
In 2009, Congress gave the FDA the ability to regulate all tobacco products it deems necessary to control.
Still, many public health experts are concerned about Wednesday’s vote, claiming that the bill ultimately does not do enough to protect minors.
“Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes…bubble gum, gummy bears, swedish fish,” Lowey said.
However, not everyone agrees that e-cigarettes warrant regulation by the FDA. Republican Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland voted against Lowey’s amendment, deeming it unnecessary.
“E-cigarettes is not really smoking,” Harris said. “I think most people realize they are less dangerous than cigarettes and yet we’re subjecting them to a higher level of regulation.”
Recent data indicates that more than 2.5 million Americans use e-cigarettes.