CHICAGO – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products Director, Dr. Brian King, and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Brian Boynton, to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes, which has resulted in millions of children using harmful and addictive tobacco products.

Durbin wrote, “I write to extend a formal invitation for you to appear and testify on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at a Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on the topic of the sale of unauthorized e-cigarettes. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. in Room G50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. I am writing to you because your agencies have not confirmed your availability for this hearing since my initial request on April 17, 2024.”

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Durbin invited the officials to testify after repeatedly calling on FDA and DOJ to protect children from the dangers of vaping. Yet, FDA continues to miss and delay critical deadlines for reviewing pre-market tobacco product applications (PMTAs) from e-cigarette manufacturers as the law requires, allowing harmful e-cigarette products to remain on store shelves. FDA was ordered by the U.S. District Court in Maryland to complete these reviews by September 9, 2021. More than two and a half years later, FDA has still not completed its PMTA reviews. In the meantime, thousands of unauthorized e-cigarettes have flooded the market, in violation of the law.

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DOJ assists FDA in bringing enforcement actions for violations of the Tobacco Control Act, and is also responsible for defending the agency from litigation. A 2022 independent review from the Reagan-Udall Foundation identified challenges between DOJ and FDA in coordinating to protect public health from unauthorized e-cigarettes.

In April, Durbin convened a meeting with Dr. King and Mr. Boynton in his Washington, D.C. office to brief him on the lack of enforcement against unauthorized e-cigarettes.

Durbin has been a vocal leader in the fight against Big Tobacco, particularly since he lost his father to lung cancer when Durbin was 14. Durbin went after Big Tobacco when he served in the House of Representatives and led the charge to ban smoking on airplanes, which eventually led to restaurants, office buildings, trains, and much more. Durbin has also led efforts to grant FDA jurisdiction over tobacco, raise tobacco taxes to prevent youth initiation, and enhance support for tobacco cessation tools.

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