WASHINGTON—At a confirmation hearing today for Dr. Stephen Hahn to serve as the next FDA Commissioner, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) urged him to put public health ahead of politics in taking action to address the vaping epidemic. Romney, who is leading legislative efforts to reduce youth vaping and nicotine addiction, issued the following statement after the hearing:
“While I appreciate that Dr. Hahn agrees that bold action is needed to reduce youth vaping, I believe he should have affirmed the need for a flavor ban based on the evidence seen so far, which is that flavored e-cigarettes are drawing more and more kids into vaping and they are becoming addicted to nicotine without knowing it. We have a health emergency on our hands, and the Administration must follow through on its commitment to ban flavors that entice our youth. With over five million high schoolers vaping and becoming addicted to nicotine, we cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Partial highlights of Senator Romney’s exchange with Dr. Hahn can be found below:
ROMNEY: “Just three days after this Committee heard from the FDA and CDC officials that flavored e-cigarettes are driving youth vaping rates, we learned from news reports that the Administration may no longer act on banning flavors. A number of us have bills that relate to banning these products—banning flavors—some include menthol, some don’t, some have a sunset provision, some don’t—but this is a really critical issue. And the first question I’d ask, is the FDA, under your leadership, able and willing to take action which will protect our kids whether or not the White House wants you to take that action?
HAHN: “As a physician, I took a pledge many years ago to uphold the ethics of medical practice and to always put the patient first. Senator, I take that pledge very seriously…Patients need to come first, and the decisions that we make need to be guided by science and data concurrent with the law.”
ROMNEY: “I would note that Dr. Schuchat last week in her testimony indicated that flavors are they key driver in leading us into this youth vaping epidemic where we have millions and millions of high schoolers and middle schoolers that are now addicted to nicotine ... I can’t imagine a reason for holding off on immediately banning these kind of flavors. Do you see a reason for holding off on that?”
HAHN: “Senator I have also seen the data that you described, suggesting that flavors are a significant affect for children using e-cigarettes, and I am alarmed by those data, completely alarmed. I think it’s a serious issue, and I think it requires bold action to keep these out of the hands of kids. We do not want to see another generation become addicted to tobacco and nicotine.”
- Senator Romney met with Dr. Hahn earlier this month ahead of his confirmation hearing before the HELP Committee.
- In September, Senators Romney and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Ending New Nicotine Dependencies (ENND) Act, which would regulate e-cigarette standards and protect public health by prohibiting non-tobacco flavors and ensuring that electronic nicotine delivery systems are tamper-proof.
- In June, Senators Romney and Mark Udall (D-NM) introduced the Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019 to ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities.
- In April, Romney helped introduce the bipartisan Tobacco to 21 Act, legislation that would prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.