Following the death of a third person related to a mystery respiratory illness linked to vaping, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today called on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless to take decisive action within the next 10 days to regulate e-cigarettes and the accompanying flavors and products.
In a letter to the acting commissioner, Durbin said that should Sharpless fail to act within ten days, Durbin will call for his resignation.
“As Acting Commissioner of the FDA, you alone have the power to stop this vaping epidemic, which has now reached the point where children and young adults are getting sick and dying,” Durbin wrote. “It is my strong belief that, if you do not take decisive action within the next ten days, you should resign your post. If you continue to refuse to do your job—which is to protect the public health—then it is time to allow someone else to take the helm.”
Durbin also called for Acting Commissioner Sharpless to send a letter to all schools in America warning of the health consequences associated with vaping, and asking each school to ensure this message is conveyed to parents and students alike; immediately ban all e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco; and immediately ban all e-cigarette devices that have not been approved for sale by the FDA, and ensure their immediate removal from stores nationwide.
Durbin asked that Senators immediately be briefed on what steps FDA is taking to combat this public health crisis, including what role marijuana-derived products are playing in this epidemic.
To date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 450 cases of severe respiratory illness among people using e-cigarettes in 33 states, as well as three deaths (in Illinois, Oregon, and Indiana).
A fourth death is being currently investigated.
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