Trump FDA pick stops short of committing to flavor ban

Trump in September announced his intention to ban flavored vapes including mint and menthol, then reportedly held up FDA action on the ban out of concerns it would cost vaping industry jobs and votes in his 2020 reelection campaign.

The FDA guidance, which had cleared Office of Management and Budget review earlier this month, was not listed this morning on the administration’s new regulatory agenda, which sets policy priorities for the next several months.

Senate HELP ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) pressed Hahn on the issue, asking whether he would cave to political pressure and White House opposition to the ban.

Hahn responded that as a doctor, he always put patients first.

“For me vaping is the canary in the coalmine, or better, the child in the vaping room,” said Romney, who has introduced a bill to ban flavors. He added that how Hahn deals with the vaping issue “is a pretty good test case” for non-vaping issues that could cause political divides.

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) asked Hahn to commit FDA to disclose any meetings with Juul, saying the popular e-cigarette brand had told her it had multiple meetings with the agency despite publicly promising to suspend lobbying. The company told her that the meetings were not about policy.

Hahn said that he was not familiar with the rules around disclosures of meetings but would familiarize himself with it and follow the law.