Virus outbreak delays US government review of e-cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Electronic cigarette companies will have four additional months to submit their products for government review because of delays tied to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that a federal court accepted its request to push back the May 12 deadline to submit vaping product applications to Sept. 9.

The agency said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused delays for the companies and FDA staff.

The review is part of the FDA’s yearslong effort to regulate the multibillion-dollar vaping industry, which includes thousands of e-cigarette devices and flavored solutions. E-cigarettes first appeared in the U.S. more than a decade ago and have grown in popularity with minimal federal regulation.

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After a surge in underage vaping, health advocacy groups successfully sued the FDA last year to speed up its review of vaping products. The court ordered the FDA to set the May 12 application deadline.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement that e-cigarette companies have reported problems completing their research because of travel restrictions and limited laboratory access. Hahn also explained that many FDA staff who would have reviewed the applications are assisting with the pandemic response.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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