WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Amid a national public health crisis, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined 22 Senate Democrats to call out the Trump administration’s recent flip-flop to abandon a critical pledge to clear the market of unauthorized, flavored e-cigarettes.
Despite President Trump’s public commitment to pull any unapproved, non-tobacco flavored products from the market in September amid epidemic usage rates by youth and ongoing instances nationwide of severe lung disease, the Trump administration has suddenly reversed course and once again is putting the profits of tobacco companies ahead of the country’s public health. The New Mexico Department of Health has reported 20 hospitalizations of individuals suffering from vaping-related lung disease across the state.
“The nation is in the midst of a public health crisis, with millions of children facing potential addiction to tobacco products and people across the country at risk of deadly illness. Yet, according to press reports, you plan to take no meaningful action to address the youth vaping epidemic and vaping-related injuries. Further, your Administration has reportedly backed away from plans to implement a policy to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes,” the senators wrote.
The latest reversals are part of a larger pattern from the Trump administration of walking back, watering down, and abandoning proposals to address the epidemic of rising youth tobacco use. In 2017, the Trump administration punted critical regulation deadlines of e-cigarettes, allowing products to remain on the market with no review. New data show that between 2017 and 2019, e-cigarette use among high school students has more than doubled, and e-cigarette use among middle school students has more than tripled.
The senators continued, “Your Administration’s continued delay in protecting youth from tobacco, including by failing to deliver the policies you promised, is an irresponsible abdication of the government’s obligation to protect the public health. It is unconscionable that the President of the United States is willing to allow special interests to stand in the way of protecting the millions of children using tobacco products that, in your own words, are ‘very dangerous.’”
In addition to Udall, the letter was signed by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).