• April 6, 2020

U.S. FDA Chief Vows Action if Necessary to Combat Youth Uptake

Stephen Hahn, the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, defended the Trump administration’s partial e-cigarette ban but said he would take more actions to stop teen vaping if necessary.

The vaping ban will take effect on Feb. 6 and will ban the sale of most flavored cartridge-based vapor products, with the exception of menthol and tobacco flavors and single-use disposable products. Critics of the ban say it is too weak and fear youth will simply switch to the nonbanned products.

In his first interview with a national media outlet since his confirmation in December, Hahn told the Washington Post that the sales restrictions will target the products most popular with youth but that the FDA will closely monitor the situation, and if minors do switch to menthol-flavored products, the agency will take further action to curb vaping.

“The good thing about this policy is we have the ability without jumping through a lot of hoops to change our enforcement prioritization based on the data we are getting in,” Hahn said.

Advocates on both sides expressed skepticism at the FDA’s ability to quickly assess and respond to changing patterns in youth vaping. “There is zero percent chance the FDA can quickly respond to what they view as the risks associated with vaping because in three years, they have failed to implement sensible regulations,” said Paul Blair, director of strategic initiatives for Americans for Tax Reform.

“The agency’s record of monitoring the marketplace in real time is troubling,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “There have been enormous changes with no evidence of their knowing it.”