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Press Room

“Warnings Are Not Enough: The Government Must Regulate Now.”

Statement from Dr. Neil Schluger, Senior Advisor for Science at Vital Strategies and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, on the warning issued today by Centers for Disease Control about the dangers of vaping:

“Americans should heed today’s warning from the Centers for Disease Control about the dangers of vaping in response to the wave of illnesses and recent deaths. It is a stark reminder of how little we know about vape ingredients, and that the Food and Drug Administration has left Americans at risk. 

Warnings are not enough. It is time for the FDA to revisit its ill-considered decision to delay regulating e-cigarettes. Failing to do so is an abdication of our government’s most fundamental responsibility: to protect its citizens from harm.

Just two weeks ago, I cared for a patient who showed up in the emergency room of my hospital, short of breath, with a fever and needing oxygen. He was one of the recent cases of vaping-associated lung injury that has sickened as many as 450 people in 33 states. At last count three people have died. How many more people’s health and lives must be placed at risk before we act?

Every indication we have so far is that there may be multiple drivers, including nicotine, THC capsules, and illicit materials. This uncertainty should only lead us to greater conviction to regulate quickly at the federal level using the best available evidence.

Americans have the right to be protected from the vaping industry, who deliver a highly addictive product that is inhaled by millions of people daily. We need bans on flavors and promotion, strict enforcement of sales restrictions, and regulations regarding the contents of e-cigarettes, including devices, liquids, pods and heat sticks.

As a doctor and a parent, what keeps me up at night is knowing that, despite laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to young people, teens have no trouble getting their hands on Juul and many similar products.

Policymakers must push the FDA to face down one of the most serious public health issues of our time.”

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Dr. Neil Schluger is the Senior Advisor for Science at Vital Strategies – a global health organization addressing the world’s leading public health challenges – where he provides expert medical advice to inform the organization’s positions and policy and programmatic work.

Neil also currently serves as Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences, and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He is the author of over 160 articles, chapters and books, and his work has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, The Lancet, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine and the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, among others. He is an Associate Editor of The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.