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State

Durbin to FDA head: Take action on vaping

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, speaks at a news conference as he visits students of Year Up Chicago, a one-year long job training program that provides low-income young adults, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Chicago.
Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, speaks at a news conference as he visits students of Year Up Chicago, a one-year long job training program that provides low-income young adults, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Chicago.

One U.S. senator from Illinois is demanding action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in response to news of more respiratory illnesses and deaths tied to vaping.

Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin called on the FDA's acting commissioner, Dr. Ned Sharpless, to take decisive action within the next several days to properly regulate e-cigarettes and flavored products marketed to young people, according to a news release. The letter came amid at least three people who used vaping products dying, and many more getting sick, including a New Lenox teen who was hospitalized last month in Colorado.

"If it my strong belief that, if you do not take decisive action within the next ten days, you should resign your post," Durbin wrote to Sharpless in a letter. "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 on Sharpless to send a letter to all schools warning of the health consequences of vaping, ban e-cigarette flavors other than tobacco and ban all e-cigarette devices not approved for sale by the FDA.

As of late last week, the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention reported 450 cases of "severe respiratory illness among people using e-cigarettes in 33 states."

This week, the FDA did take some action, announcing it sent a warning letter to JUUL Labs, an e-cigarette company.

"Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful," Sharpless said in a news release.

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