The head of the Food and Drug Administration told the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing on Wednesday that the agency will not issue an outright ban on flavored e-cigarettes, despite mounting calls from lawmakers to do so.
Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said his agency will “enforce existing law” when it comes to the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vapes, which have become the subject of public consternation as they’ve been linked to a spate of illnesses and deaths across the country. The flavored e-cigarettes, in particular, have been criticized for their appeal to children. President Donald Trump voiced support to ban them in early September.
But the FDA commissioner’s guarantee that he will enforce existing law stops short of an outright ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Existing law puts a halt on marketing such items until manufacturers can demonstrate that “marketing their products is appropriate to the protection of public health,” Sharpless said. Companies will have until May 2020 to apply with the FDA for a license to do so, according to Bloomberg.
He added that it “would not mean flavored products will never be marketed.”
Ban or not, the vape industry is in a state of upheaval over regulations and health concerns. Kevin Burns, CEO of the popular e-cigarette company Juul Labs, stepped down Wednesday as state and federal governments crack down on the industry and its marketing practices.
After vaping products ― many of them containing THC ― were linked to nine deaths and hundreds of illnesses, Massachusetts announced a monthslong ban on the sale of all vaping products, and Walmart stopped selling e-cigarettes altogether.