WASHINGTON, DC — As federal health officials conduct a multi-state investigation of lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarette and other vaping products, Rep. Rosa DeLauro is calling for a complete removal of all e-cigarette products from the marketplace.
Over the course of several days last week, DeLauro made an impassioned plea to officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to remove all e-cigarette and vaping products from the market until they’ve been cleared by the FDA as safe for use — citing hundreds of people from across the United States who have developed severe lung disease, as well as the deaths of at least six others, after using e-cigarette products.
DeLauro first sent a letter Sept. 9 to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar, and Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging them to not only ban the sales of all e-cigarette products that haven’t undergone proper vetting for their health risks, but to also enforce existing law under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (TCA),which gave the FDA the authority to regulate new tobacco products — something DeLauro said the FDA has failed to adequately do since the act’s inception in 2009.
“In the ten years since the TCA was enacted, (the) FDA has failed to adequately regulate e-cigarette products,” she wrote. “ … As a consequence, today there are now thousands of e-cigarette products on the market without any independent, science-based assessment of their long-term health risks, the safety of their ingredients, or their impact on youth tobacco initiation.”
Following the Trump administration’s announcement last Thursday that it was preparing to ban all flavored e-cigarettes in response to what some lawmakers have labeled a public health crisis, DeLauro criticized the move as “long overdue” and one that will not fully address the situation.
“We need bold, decisive action to solve it,” she said in a video statement Sept. 11. “We cannot stand by idly while people are falling ill or dying. We must do better. We must act.”
DeLauro reiterated that call for a ban during a press conference held last week at Yale New Haven Hospital alongside Connecticut state health officials and others.
Nearly Two Dozen Connecticut Residents Affected
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, 11 Connecticut residents have been hospitalized for “severe lung disease possibly related to using e-cigarettes or vaping” since Aug. 14. In a statement released last Thursday, the department encouraged residents to refrain from using e-cigarette products until state and federal health officials have determined the cause of the respiratory illnesses.
Connecticut DPH Commissioner Renee D. Coleman-Mitchell called the illnesses and their possible connection to e-cigarette usage and/or vaping “a serious public health concern.”
Of the residents affected, seven reside in Fairfield County, three reside in New Haven County, and one resides in New London County, and all are between the ages of 15 and 50 years old. As of last Thursday, most had been released from area hospitals according to state officials.
Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 380 people from 36 states, including Connecticut, have confirmed or probable cases of vaping-related illnesses as of Sept. 11; six deaths from vaping-related illnesses have also been confirmed. Health officials in California confirmed a seventh death Tuesday.
While the CDC originally reported as many as 450 cases of vaping-related illnesses earlier this month, the agency has since issued guidance that clarifies how possible cases of vaping-related illnesses are classified. As a result, the official number of probable or confirmed cases of vaping-related illnesses decreased last Thursday by 70 due; the CDC said the previous case count was higher because it included “possible cases that were under investigation” and not just probable or confirmed cases.