Republicans blocked an amendment to a spending bill on Wednesday that would require that electronic cigarettes be subject to the Food and Drug Administration pre-market review process, reported the Hill. Republicans voted 26-23 to reject the amendment, which was proposed by Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
The amendment sought to remove a provision in the bill that exempted e-cigarettes and similar products from a pre-market review process, a provision Lowey described as "objectionable."
“This bill would allow them [e-cigarettes] to stay on the market ... without an FDA pre-market review and open the door for similar products to avoid FDA review down the road,” Lowey said of the spending bill, which would fund the Department of Agriculture and the FDA.
In a statement last month, Lowey described the bill as "nothing short of a giveaway to the tobacco industry."
Although e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine via a vaporized liquid without the traditional cigarette smoke or tar, are considered safer than smokable cigarettes, the potential danger of "vaping" instead of smoking is still not entirely known.
The FDA was given authority by Congress to regulate tobacco products in 2009, and in April 2014, it announced that it would issue new rules for e-cigarettes forcing manufacturers to create warning labels and ban sales to those under 18. The new rules also prevent e-cigarette manufacturers from marketing their products until they are reviewed by the FDA.
Public health groups including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids seem to be primarily concerned that the bill would limit the FDA's ability to regulate how e-cigarettes are marketed to children and teens.
“Many of these products are aimed at children, including a substantial number of the 7,000 flavors of e-cigarettes ... bubble gum, gummy bears, Swedish fish,” Lowey said, reported the Hill.
But for Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., that's not the issue.
"E-cigarettes is not really smoking,” Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., said, reported the Hill. “I think most people realize they are less dangerous than cigarettes and yet we’re subjecting them to a higher level of regulation.”