Senate Democrats urge Trump not to back down from vaping flavor ban

Democratic senators are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpNumber of uninsured children rises for second year, tops 4 million Trump moment from White House Halloween trick-or-treat event goes viral White House official says transcript of Ukraine call omitted key phrases: report MORE not to abandon his promise to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market.

In a letter sent Tuesday, 25 Democrats led by Senate Health Committee ranking member Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Judge temporarily blocks Alabama near-total abortion ban | Sanders dismisses calls for ‘Medicare for All’ funding plan | Dems urge Trump not to back down on vaping flavor ban Senate Democrats urge Trump not to back down from vaping flavor ban Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America’s Health Care Future — Warren faces tough choices on ‘Medicare for All’ funding | Dems demand answers on Tom Price’s charter flights | Medicaid expansion nears 2020 ballot in Oklahoma MORE (Wash.), said they had “significant concerns” because it has been more than a month since administration officials first announced their intention to remove all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes from the market.  

“With each day, more children continue to be lured to e-cigarettes by flavors such as fruit, candy, and mint or menthol. We are therefore deeply troubled that there is no final compliance policy more than six weeks after the Oval Office announcement,” the senators wrote. 

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Pressure has been growing on the administration ever since the Sept. 11 announcement. 

Democrats and many Republicans initially applauded when Trump and federal health officials made the announcement to restrict the sale of all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes. 

But the administration has yet to release the policy, and Democrats have been ramping up their criticism. 

Last week, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Defense: House approves Turkey sanctions in rebuke of Trump | Trump attacks on Army officer testifying spark backlash | Dems want answers from Esper over Ukraine aid Democrats want answers from Pentagon chief on withheld Ukraine aid Senate Democrats urge Trump not to back down from vaping flavor ban MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat and one of the most vocal opponents of vaping, called Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and urged him to release the rule.  

Mitch Zeller, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s tobacco program, told reporters last week that the rule is a “very, very high priority, and we’re trying to complete work on it as quickly as possible.”

But the administration has also been taking heat from the right.

Trump’s initial announcement was met with fierce opposition from the vaping industry and conservatives, who argue that removing flavors would hurt small businesses and adults who use the products to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

Azar is now reportedly considering exempting mint and menthol flavors from the ban, amid warnings from Trump’s 2020 campaign team that the ban could have negative political ramifications for the president.

Murray and the other Democrats warned the administration not to listen.

“[W]e implore the Administration to finalize a compliance policy removing all unauthorized, non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from the market immediately. It must not bow to industry or political pressure at the expense of the public health,” the Democrats wrote. 

The White House Office of Management and Budget last week began reviewing the administration’s guidance to that would implement the ban. 

However, there is no timeframe for when the review will end, and administration officials have not disclosed what the actual text of the guidance will say.

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