MIL-OSI USA: Durbin Reacts To Creation Of Federal Multi-Agency Task Force To Combat Sale Of Illegal E-Cigarette Products

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US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin
06.10.24
The task force was created after Durbin repeatedly urged FDA and DOJ to crack down on illegal e-cigarette products
CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a federal multi-agency task force to combat the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarettes.  The task force aims to employ all criminal and civil enforcement tools to crack down on the illegal distribution and sale of e-cigarette products.  Joining DOJ and FDA in the task force are the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS); and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  Today’s announcement also comes ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s planned hearing this week entitled “Combatting the Youth Vaping Epidemic by Enhancing Enforcement Against Illegal E-Cigarettes.”
“I’m glad my calls for greater enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarettes have been heeded and that more resources are on the way to address the flood of illegal products entering the market. But new partnerships only matter if our federal agencies use their enforcement tools instead of cowering to the tobacco industry’s lawyers. Thus far, our agencies have failed to prevent a wave of youth e-cigarette addiction. I hope this brings meaningful change—the health of our kids depends on it.”
The announced task force comes after Durbin has repeatedly called on FDA and DOJ to better enforce federal laws against the unlawful sale of unauthorized e-cigarette products.  Durbin has slammed FDA for its continued lack of urgency as millions of children have begun using addictive e-cigarettes.  For years, FDA has failed to regulate e-cigarettes—currently falling more than two and a half years past a court-ordered deadline to review applications from vaping companies, and refusing to enforce the law and take action against companies marketing illegal vaping products to children.  Under the Tobacco Control Act (TCA), e-cigarette companies are required to obtain authorization from FDA prior to entering the market, which the agency has neglected to properly enforce.
In April, Durbin called FDA and DOJ officials into his Washington office to receive a briefing on the lack of enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarettes that is allowing millions of children to get hooked on nicotine.  In the meeting, Durbin questioned the agencies about the unacceptable delay in reviewing pre-market tobacco product applications (PMTAs) and raised concerns about the inadequate efforts to regulate these products despite statutory and court-ordered directives.
Last year, Durbin’s office examined FDA’s public data files to identify e-cigarette manufacturers who have received both marketing denial orders and warning letters yet continue to sell unauthorized products, in order to assess FDA’s effectiveness in taking enforcement action against some of the most flagrantly defiant examples.  Durbin’s office found at least 22 vaping products that appeared to be sold online by the manufacturer in violation of the law and in defiance of repeated enforcement actions by FDA.  In addition to those products sold online by the manufacturer, several other such products remain available for purchase from third-party retailers, including one of the most popular e-cigarettes among children, Breeze Smoke.  Durbin’s investigation also found that FDA has only issued “closeout letters” to 10 percent of the 685 tobacco warning letters it has issued since January 1, 2021.  A closeout letter indicates that FDA has verified that corrective action has taken place to address the violations contained in the warning letter.
Durbin has been a vocal leader in the fight against Big Tobacco, particularly since he lost his father to lung cancer when Durbin was 14.  He went after Big Tobacco when he served in the House of Representatives and led the charge to ban smoking on airplanes, which eventually led to restaurants, office buildings, trains, and much more.  Durbin has also led efforts to grant FDA jurisdiction over tobacco, raise tobacco taxes to prevent youth initiation, and enhance support for tobacco cessation tools.
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