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Sen. Ron Johnson & FDA e-cig regulations: What happened with ‘the letters?’

Posted by Matt Rowland on

When the FDA e-cig regulations were first announced on May 5, 2016, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) was one of the very few politicians who seemed to take an interest.  And Johnson is not your run-of-the-mill Senator.  He’s the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, one of the most powerful positions in Congress.

Within two weeks of the FDA announcement, Johnson sent the agency his first letter requesting answers to several questions.  He wanted to learn how agency officials came to the conclusion that electronic cigarettes should be classified as “tobacco products,” and he wondered if “sufficient data” was used by the FDA to rule e-cigs and vaping devices as a health threat to the general public.  But perhaps even more importantly, Johnson wanted to know if the FDA had considered the unintended consequences of FDA e-cig regulations that could essentially wipe out thousands of small businesses almost overnight. 


The Wisconsin Senator ended his first letter by stating,

“Please provide this material as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 31, 2016.  When delivering production sets, please produce to Majority staff in room 340 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building and to Minority staff in room 613 of the Hart Senate Office Building. “

Strangely, the FDA ignored Johnson’s request.  So on June 6, Sen. Johnson sent a second letter requesting the same information while extending the delivery date to June 20, 2016.  This time, his tone was more abrupt.

“As chairman of the primary oversight Committee of the United States Senate, I urge the FDA to be transparent and accountable in its regulatory actions.  I ask that you please respond to my requests for information so that the Committee and the American public may fully understand that FDA’s rulemaking and its consequences for small business and the public’s health…. If the FDA does not provide an adequate response to these inquiries, the Committee may be forced to resort to other means to compel the production of this information.”

The last line of the second letter got the attention of many e-cig advocacy groups.  Many wondered what “other means” were available to the Committee on Homeland Security to demand that the FDA respond to the Senator’s repeated requests for information.  As June 20 came and went, no press release was issued by Johnson’s office.  Did this mean that Johnson was too busy with the Orlando terrorist attack and other world events, which is completely understandable.  Or did he perhaps forget about the FDA e-cig regulations entirely? 

Sen. Ron Johnson & the FDA e-cig regulations:  The battle continues

Approximately seven days after the newly extended June 20 deadline, called the Senator’s office personally.  A spokesperson for Johnson stated that they could not comment “at this time” on the current standings of the previous two letters.  Here at, we encourage all members of the vaping community to call, write, or email Sen Ron Johnson to express your support in this matter.  Contact Information can be located here.


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