Mayor: FDA Needs to Step Up to Protect Teenagers — Opinion

— Waupun Pioneer News is brought to you by Homan Auto Group. Article continues below. —

The rampant influx of illicit and unregulated e-cigarette products into the U.S. market, primarily from China, has become a concerning issue that demands immediate attention. Fly-by-night companies, taking advantage of regulatory loopholes, have flooded the market with dangerous products, exposing consumers to potential harm. The lack of effective enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exacerbating the problem, allowing unsafe products to reach store shelves. At the same time, the FDA is failing to meet its mission to create a marketplace of authorized products with the goal of tobacco harm reduction. 

House Oversight Chairman James Comer has rightfully questioned the FDA’s failure to take meaningful enforcement action in administering tobacco and nicotine regulatory programs. Chairman Comer’s concerns regarding the agency’s “severe deficiencies” and the resulting industry uncertainty are well-founded. The FDA’s failure to provide a comprehensive list of authorized products for retailers to reference has only added to the chaos. 

My friend, Congressman Glenn Grothman has always made the public’s health and safety a huge priority throughout his life in public service. I hope Congressman Grothman will join the chorus of those in Congress calling on the FDA to enforce regulations that prevent illicit e-cigarettes from China to be available to American consumers. 

The dominance of Chinese e-cigarette products with kid-friendly flavors is particularly alarming. These products have become the most frequently used by underage e-cigarette users, with flavored disposable or single-use devices being the primary culprits. The statistics from the National Youth Tobacco Survey paint a concerning picture of underage usage. One-in-four high school and middle school age children report using e-cigarettes daily. Eighty-five percent say they prefer flavored products.

Chinese-made disposable devices with flavors like “peach blueberry candy” and “pineapple strawnana” are readily available in liquor stores, smoke shops, and independent stores across the United States. These products have generated over $2 billion in sales. The fact that these products are being sold illegally raises serious questions about the FDA’s oversight and enforcement. 

An HHS Office of Inspector General’s report reveals serious shortcomings in the agency’s efforts to prevent youth access to tobacco products online, as well. Warning letters were issued to a fraction of the flagged websites, yet high-volume online retailers selling prohibited products were left untouched. The FDA’s failure to issue rules on the non-face-to-face sale and distribution of tobacco products further compounds the problem. 

Congress should focus on holding the FDA accountable and pressuring the Biden Administration to prioritize the regulation of these illicit products. It is essential for Congress to demand increased oversight and reforms within the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. The agency must adopt the recommendations put forth internally by its own Reagan-Udall Foundation to address the agency’s flawed process. By doing so, responsible practices can be implemented industry-wide, effectively reducing youth usage and achieving the long-term goal of harm reduction. 

The prevalence of illicit and unregulated e-cigarette products is a grave public health concern. It is time for the FDA to step up and fulfill its regulatory responsibilities, ensuring the safety of consumers and protecting the youth from the harmful effects of these products.

Rohn Bishop is the Mayor of Waupun, Wisconsin. Article provided via ArenaStrategy.com.