Stephen Hahn, MD, President Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was grilled by Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee members this week on both sides of the aisle about how he will move forward with plans to ban flavored vaping devices – a promise the president made in September but has resisted taking action on in the two months since after lobbyists and political advisers warned of possible political repercussions from the vaping industry.

“Members of this body have been waiting more than two months for the FDA to release its flavor ban and while we’ve been waiting, 35 more people have died from lung injuries,” said Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, pointing out that many of those who have fallen ill after vaping were youth. “Flavors are what’s luring kids in. This is a really critical issue.”

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith referenced Hahn’s opening statement during which he promised not to be swayed by political influences in his role as FDA chief. “There’s an open question here … of whether you will commit to the administration’s proposal to clear the market of flavored cigarettes.”

Hahn avoided making any promises of his own, saying instead that he couldn’t make a decision without having all the data. He tried to assure committee members by adding “throughout my career, I’ve been put in situations where I found myself in positions of leadership where making tough calls needed to be done … I can promise you that I can [do] that.”

If confirmed, Hahn would take over after Scott Gottlieb, MD, who left the post in April. Ned Sharpless, MD, a former director of the National Cancer Institute, is serving as acting FDA chair. Hahn currently serves as chief medical officer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. On Oct. 7 they also filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts in three states, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.

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