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House Committee Approves Bill Weakening FDA Tobacco Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to work to ease current federal regulations on newly deemed tobacco products like electronic cigarettes and cigars.

On July 12, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2018 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies appropriations bill.

Included in the legislation is a provision that would move the predicate date for newly deemed products from Feb. 15, 2007, as outlined in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Moving the date will effectively prevent the FDA from requiring retroactive reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market, according to The Associated Press.

The measure would also exempt some premium and large cigars from FDA regulations, the report added.

"E-vapor products are 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes," said Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), a co-sponsor of the plan. "I want to help people in our country, America, to cycle off of cigarettes."

But most panel Democrats said the products are dangerous and are targeted at children.

"While we do not know what is in e-cigarettes, study after study finds that most show high levels of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals," said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who said the products are geared toward getting children hooked on nicotine with flavors such as Fruit Loops and Gummy Bears.

"The FDA would never be able to put the genie back in the bottle, unable to regulate — or even know what is in — these products, forever," Lowey said. 

A move by Lowey to defend the FDA rules was blocked by a 30-22 vote, according to the AP.

"These changes would benefit the cigar and e-cigarette industries at the expense of the nation's public health. Congress made a commitment to protect the health of the American people when it passed the Tobacco Control Act. Today's committee action is a serious breach of that promise," said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

"We urge the House to reject the committee's pro-tobacco industry provisions and encourage the Senate to adopt a clean bill and not include the House proposals to undercut the FDA's tobacco products oversight authority," he added.

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