US Congress Urges Department of Justice and FDA to Take Action to Ban Child-Friendly E-Cigarettes

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US lawmakers demand federal officials to take action against child-friendly e-cigarettes flooding in from China, according to Associated Press.

According to a report by the Associated Press on December 8, US lawmakers in the House of Representatives are demanding federal officials to provide information regarding the steps they are taking to stop the recent influx of e-cigarettes from China that are appealing to children.

The newly-established US-China Relations Committee members have raised concerns regarding the rampant proliferation of illegal vaping products. They issued a request to the leaders of the Justice Department and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday.

The letter cites a report from the Associated Press, highlighting the recent influx of thousands of new disposable e-cigarettes into the market. These e-cigarettes are predominantly manufactured in China and are being sold in flavors such as watermelon and gummy bears.

The FDA has announced that all such products are illegal. Companies seeking to sell e-cigarettes in the United States must first obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration, although many products imported from China have bypassed this requirement. The agency has only authorized a very limited number of tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes targeting adult smokers.

“We request that you, together with the Customs and Border Protection Agency, urgently address this issue,” wrote the 12 members of the special committee, including Chairman Mike Gallagher, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democratic Congressman from Illinois, in this letter.

The special committee was established earlier this year to address China’s policies that could harm the US economy. For years, tensions between China and the United States have been on the rise, with both countries resorting to retaliatory measures on imported goods.

The committee’s investigation is being conducted against the backdrop of an improving situation regarding teenage smoking. Last month, an annual government survey revealed that the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes decreased from 14% in 2022 to 10%.

The FDA’s Tobacco Center has recently stepped up its efforts in cracking down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes in stores, following a scathing assessment report earlier this year. Among other measures, a report commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration called for regulatory agencies to collaborate more closely with other federal entities to rid the unauthorized e-cigarette market.

The leaders of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have pointed out that they rely on the Department of Justice to prosecute smoking companies that have been confirmed by tobacco regulation authorities. However, in many cases, prosecutors may decide not to bring charges for various reasons.

In their letter, the lawmakers explicitly asked the head of the Consumer Protection Division at the Department of Justice whether they have “sufficient resources or expertise to handle the cases submitted by the FDA related to e-cigarettes.

Lawmakers are hopeful to receive answers to more than seven questions before January 15th.

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