Health groups ask to intervene in lawsuits over cigar, e-cigarette rules

A coalition of six public health groups asked federal courts on Monday if it could intervene in two lawsuits challenging the first-ever rules for cigars and electronic cigarettes that were finalized under former President Barack Obama.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Associatio and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Truth Initiative filed motions in federal district courts in the District of Columbia and Alabama asking for permission to defend the rule in court.

The Cigar Association of America and e-cigarette company Cyclops Vapor 2 LLC are both fighting the rule, which forces companies to put warnings on product labels and go through an approval process for products that hit store shelves after Feb. 15, 2007.

The groups pointed to the Food and Drug Administration's recent request to delay the cases and announced plans to push compliance deadlines back by three months as signs the Trump administration won't adequately defend the rule or may seek to weaken or to rescind it. 

In its motions filed Monday, the groups said rolling back the rule would have a “direct adverse effect on public health, particularly among youth.”

“Public Health Intervenors are non-profit organizations that have worked for decades to protect the public from the devastating harms caused by tobacco products,” they said in court documents.

“Dismantling the regulatory structure adopted by the FDA in the Deeming Rule would increase the risk of those harms, particularly to young people.”

The groups claim the FDA’s strong defense of the regulation under Obama is what led D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to rule against the e-liquids manufacture Nicopure Labs LLC and uphold the rule last week.

“In the Deeming Rule, the FDA simply announced that electronic cigarettes, or electronic nicotine delivery systems would be subject to the same set of rules and regulations that Congress had already put in place for conventional cigarettes,” she wrote in her opinion.

“The Rule requires manufacturers to subject their products to review before marketing them, to tell the truth when making any claims about their health benefits, and to warn consumers about the dangers of nicotine when offering a means to deliver the substance to consumers. In short, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes are now required to tell the 30 million people who use the devices what is actually in the liquid being vaporized and inhaled.”

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