The U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday approved the nomination of Stephen Hahn to be head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reports The Washington Post.
During his confirmation hearing, senators grilled Hahn about his position on e-cigarettes and the Trump administration’s apparent backtracking on earlier announced measures to ban flavored products.
Hahn said he was alarmed by 2019 data showing that almost 28 percent of high schoolers have vaped in the past 30 days but said he didn’t want to prejudge the administration’s e-cigarette policy because he hasn’t been involved in developing it. He vowed to use “science and data” to address that issue and others.
In September, the Trump administration announced it would clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes, but the president has yet to act, citing concern about black market sales.
Vapor advocates have protested that a flavor ban would cause job losses and drive vapers to cigarettes while conservative pressure groups warned that the measure would erode support for Trump’s reelection.
Vapor activists have also argued that a flavor ban would hurt adults using e-cigarettes to quit smoking and that youth use should be reduced in other ways, such as by restricting where the products are sold.
If approved by the Senate, Hahn, a top official at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, will be the fourth head of the FDA in less than a year.