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  • Dem Senator Wants To Investigate Leak Exposing Regs That Could Wipe Out E-Cigarette Industry

    Senior Democratic Sen. [crscore]Patty Murray[/crscore] has called for an investigation into how an e-cigarette trade group was able to obtain draft documents of regulations that could cripple its industry.

    In 2009, Congress passed the Tobacco Control Act, giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate e-cigarettes and conventional cigars. The FDA has yet to release the draft rules that have been hotly debated over the past six years.

    In October, Senate Democrats signed a letter to the White House Office Management calling for “swift and immediate action to finalize the tobacco deeming rule in order to reduce tobacco’s harmful effects on public health, and especially the health of America’s youth.”

    Their suggestions included clamping down on advertising, adding compulsory health warnings, banning different flavors and introducing a minimum-age standard.

    In October, the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association released what it claimed were the FDA’s guidelines for regulating e-cigarettes. The leak caused an uproar among e-cigarette producers, who fear the most damaging provision in the guidelines would hammer their business. The leaked documents showed that the FDA would require e-cigarette companies to reapply for authorization of any products they released after Feb. 15, 2007.

    The rule would cover the overwhelming majority of all e-cigarettes and would leave the industry in an impossible position, with the vast majority of independent companies going out of businesses.

    The companies most likely to benefit would be traditional tobacco companies, whose e-cigarettes operations can incur significant regulatory costs but can rely on their underlying profitability from traditional tobacco.

    But on Thursday, Sen. Murray wrote to Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson asking him to investigate the leak. “The premature disclosure of this unverified but confidential information during a period when the regulation remains under review by the executive branch is of serious concern,” she said.

    Following the leak, the FDA said in a statement, “as a matter of policy, the FDA does not share draft documents with outside groups while they are under review and the FDA cannot provide any further comment until the final documents are published.”

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