The US Senate confirmed Becerra to serve as the Biden administration’s secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
WASHINGTON — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will now serve as the head of the US Department of Health and Human Services. HHS is the department that oversees the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — all agencies that directly deal with the regulation of deemed tobacco products and substance abuse.
Serving as the first Latino HHS secretary, Becerra will implement the long-awaited Biden administration’s public health policy covering infectious diseases and preventive health.
This, of course, includes the regulation of electronic cigarettes and deemed tobacco products other than cigarettes. Oral tobacco products, non-combustible products, and others will also be included in this policy framework that Becerra intends to implement.
The vote was 50 to 49, confirming Becerra. Such a confirmation vote margin is so slim and proves that he is one of the most controversial Biden administration nominees to enter the office. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined with Senate Democrats to vote in favor of the nomination. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono opted not to vote.
“They’ve complained loudly that he has no direct experience as a medical professional, even though Republicans voted in lock-step to install Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical executive who raised drug prices and tried to undermine our nation’s health law, as the previous HHS Secretary.”
During his tenure as the Attorney General of California, Becerra led state attorneys general in several class actions against major e-cigarette companies like Juul Labs. In late 2019, for instance, Becerra filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs that accuses the company of deceptive marketing practices and allegedly targeting the state’s youth with nicotine.