The Senate confirmed Dr. Stephen Hahn as the new head of the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, despite concerns over how he would address the growing issue of vaping among underage youth.
Hahn is a cancer expert and a hospital executive. He was confirmed as FDA commissioner by a vote of 72-18. Hahn’s confirmation comes at a time when key decisions regarding electronic cigarettes remain undecided, such as how to keep them out of the hands of teenagers.
In a statement made more than three months earlier, President Donald Trump and top health officials announced that they would remove virtually all flavors of e-cigarettes because they appeal to teens and children. Vaping lobbyists have resisted, and White House advisors warned Trump that a ban on flavored e-cigarettes could lose him votes from adults who vape.
Hahn avoided questions regarding the fate of the ban on flavors during his confirmation hearing. Hahn refused to specify his preferred method of regulating vaping when lawmakers asked him to do so. He said he would only follow “science and the evidence.”
Despite this, Hahn won the support of several prominent vaping critics, including Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin. Durbin said he hoped Hahn’s influence would be used to pressure the Trump administration into cracking down on the vaping industry.
“Dr. Durbin said that Hahn told him he didn’t want history to remember him as the FDA head who witnessed this epidemic growing dramatically. Durbin is the No. The No.
Health experts and anti-vaping groups argue that flavorings like mint, fruit, and menthol attract teens. Vaping advocates say that flavors are what can encourage adult smokers to switch from cigarettes. Cigarettes cause cancer, lung diseases, strokes, and other deadly illnesses.
Health officials have described the underage vaping epidemic as. According to the most recent government survey, one in four high school students admitted using e-cigarettes in the past month despite federal laws banning sales of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month, despite federal law banning sales to those under 18.
E-cigarettes heat a nicotine-containing solution, making them addictive. Although they are considered to be less harmful than tobacco-and-paper cigarettes, there has been little research done on their long-term effects.
Hahn will replace Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who left the federal agency last April.
Gottlieb surprised many early on in his tenure when he announced an unprecedented initiative to reduce smoking. The FDA’s plan, announced in July 2017, would allow it to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes so that they are no longer addictive and encourage smokers to stop or switch to safer products such as e-cigarettes.
According to the regulatory agenda, the proposal to reduce nicotine was scheduled for release in October of this year. It didn’t show up and was removed last month from the FDA’s updated list. A spokeswoman for the FDA said that the agency continues to review this policy.
Anti-tobacco activists worry that the Trump administration has backed away from its commitment to make cigarettes less addictive.
The FDA regulates many consumer products and medicines, including new drugs, medical devices, packaged foods, nutrition labels, tobacco, and cosmetics.
Hahn, as FDA commissioner, will have to deal with a number of pressing health issues. These include the opioid epidemic and safety concerns with imported drugs.
Hahn is a lung cancer specialist who worked most recently as MD Anderson Cancer Center’s top executive.