WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley—a leading voice pushing to take on the e-cigarette industry’s strategies to addict young Americans—released the following statement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new actions on e-cigarettes:
“The tobacco industry produces products that kill thousands of Americans each year, and sustains itself by recruiting ‘replacement smokers’ by marketing to young adults. That’s why any serious public health plan to take on the addiction crisis must start by cutting off this insidious, youth-targeted strategy at its head.
“I’ve been vocal for many years—under both the Obama and Trump administrations—in urging fast, aggressive action by the FDA to protect teens. So I am extremely gratified today to see the beginnings of a plan that fights back forcefully against those who prey on our youth. I applaud the FDA for taking action, and I urge them to stick to this plan and stand strong in the face of the furious industry lobbying that is sure to come.”
Merkley’s actions to fight back against the teenage e-cigarette addiction crisis:
April 2009 – Sen. Merkley cosponsors legislation empowering the FDA to restrict the marketing of tobacco and ban candy-flavored cigarettes.
April 2009 – Sen. Merkley meets with Dr. Howard Koh, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS and Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Nominee for FDA Commissioner and discussed FDA regulation of tobacco products.
June 2009 – Sen. Merkley speaks on Senate floor about tobacco products that are intended to addict a new generation of children. He termed them “tobacco candy.”
April 2010 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to FDA urging that they use their authority to remove all tobacco candy/dissolvables from the market.
June 2011 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to FDA Commissioner Hamburg regarding dissolvables manufactured by Star Scientific.
July 2011 – Sen. Merkley, along with Sens. Brown and Blumenthal meet with Lawrence Deyton, Director Center for Tobacco Products, regarding dissolvables manufactured by Star Scientific.
January 2012 – Sen. Merkley signs letter to FDAF Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging FDA to issue regulations to restrict and prohibit the use of descriptions and marketing that mislead consumers about the safety of cigarettes.
May 2012 – Sen. Merkley meets with Lawrence Deyton, Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, regarding the status of deeming rule regulations.
June 2012 – Sen. Merkley calls Sec. Sebelius re: status of deeming regulations.
September 2012 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to Commissioner Hamburg requesting an update on the agency’s progress and a timeline for issuing the deeming regulation.
September 2012 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to Sec. Sebelius urging that FDA issue the draft deeming regulations as soon as possible.
April 2013 – Sen. Merkley meets with FDA Commisioner Hamburg about the deeming regulations.
July 2013 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to Sec. Sebelius to request update on status of deeming regulations.
September 2013 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to CEO of E-Cigarette Manufacturer NJOY expressing concern about the marketing and sale of electronic cigarettes to minors, and to the Obama Administration urging FDA to issue the tobacco deeming regulations, exerting FDA oversight over these products which could include a ban on flavorings
October 2013 – FDA sends OMB/ OIRA draft regulation for review.
December 2013 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to President Obama to request that he urge OIRA to move quickly to review the proposed deeming regulations and, following the subsequent comment period, review the final regulation expeditiously.
January 2014 – Sen. Merkley gives a Floor Speech on the 50th anniversary of Surgeon General’s Report on dangers of tobacco, drawing parallels with the industry’s new strategies.
March 2014 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to FDA regarding the dangers of e-liquids and dissolvables.
April 2014 – Sen. Merkley questions Commissioner Hamburg about the status of the deeming regulations at Ag/FDA Approps Subcommittee hearing and speaks about the dangers of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine.
April 2014 – Sens. Merkley, Brown, and Blumenthal meet with Comm. Hamburg and Mitch Zeller, Director, FDA Center for Tobacco Products to discuss status of deeming regulations
April 2014 – FDA issued proposed deeming regulations, and opened a 90-day comment period.
May 2014 – Sen. Merkley signs letter to FDA calling for the agency to acknowledge recent studies that indicate possible harmful health effects of “vapor” or “plume” on e-cigarette users and secondhand inhalers.
May 2014 – Sen. Merkley hosts a press conference at Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) to discuss the status of the deeming regs and the need for FDA to regulate dissolvable tobacco and e-cigarettes.
June 2014 – Sen. Merkley releases congressional report on need for e-cigarette regulation.
July 2014 – Sen. Merkley signs letter to FDA calling for stronger protections for children in FDA’s first proposed rule regulating e-cigarettes.
July 2014 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) questioning the methodology of their cost-benefit analysis related to the FDA’s proposed “deeming rule” on tobacco products.
August 2014 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to FDA calling for stronger protections for children in the first proposed rule regulating e-cigarettes. It urges that once the deeming regulations are finalized, that newly-deemed products can only remain on the market if their manufacturers apply the restrictions imposed on traditional tobacco products to limit youth access, including a ban on flavorings, prohibition of tobacco brand-name sponsorships, and limits on advertising.
September 2014 – Sen. Merkley cosponsors S. 2047, The Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014, which prohibits advertisement, promotion, or marketing in commerce of electronic cigarettes in a manner that is known, or should be known, to increase the use of electronic cigarettes by children under the age of 18.
February 2015 – Sen. Merkley signs letter urging the FDA to finalize its plan for regulating e-cigarettes.
March 2015 – Sen. Merkley meets with FDA leaders to further urge them to regulate e-cigarettes.
April 2015 – Sen. Merkley renews calls for FDA action on e-cigarettes as new study shows e-cigarette use tripling among middle and high school students.
June 2015 – Sen. Merkley, on the six-year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, blasts the Obama Administration’s failure to finalize anti-tobacco regulations, calling the delays “unacceptable” and noting that youth use of new tobacco products is spiking as the Administration sits on the new rules.
October 2015 – Sen. Merkley presses the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to complete its review of a long-overdue rule to regulate e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco as quickly as possible.
April 2016 – Sen. Merkley takes to the Senate floor and decries lack of action on e-cigarette rules.
May 2016 – Sen. Merkley applauds the release of a final tobacco deeming rule which will grant the FDA authority to regulate all tobacco products. With this new authority, the FDA has the tools needed to crack down on tobacco companies that use manipulative marketing to encourage children and teens to smoke e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and other tobacco products.
July 2017 – Sen. Merkley releases a statement after the FDA announced a delay in regulating e-cigarettes.
August 2017 – Sen. Merkley sends a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb denouncing the agency’s recent move to delay oversight of newly-regulated tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars.
February 2018 – Sen. Merkley sends letter to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb regarding the modified-risk applications for Philip Morris’ IQOS tobacco product.
April 2018 – Sen. Merkley signs a pair of letters to FDA and JUUL Labs, Inc. regarding e-cigarette use in children and young adults.
June 2018 – Sen. Merkley signs a letter to FDA to reconsider its decision to delay regulation of e-cigs/flavorings until 2021/2022 (under the FDA’s “deeming rule” these products were set to be regulated in 2018/2019); and a series of questions about how/whether they are enforcing current tobacco regulations (per the “deeming rule,” tobacco products that were not on the market as of Aug 8, 2016 are not allowed to come to the market now without FDA review. Yet new flavorings and devices are popping up every day without FDA review.
August 2018 – Sen. Merkley cosponsors the bipartisan “Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids Act” (SAFE Kids Act), which would impose additional restrictions on tobacco flavors for use in e-cigarettes and ban the use of all flavors in cigars within one year.