'We are committed:' Vaping executives promise lawmakers they’ll do better

WASHINGTON — Executives from the country’s five largest e-cigarette manufacturers faced questions from lawmakers Wednesday, some saying they had behaved badly in the past but still arguing against further regulation of sales and marketing of their products.

K.C. Crosthwaite, the new CEO of vaping giant Juul, admitted to lawmakers that flavored products targeted teens, but promised the industry is now taking proactive steps to ensure kids don’t get them.

“We are committed to taking concrete action to re-earn that trust,” Crosthwaite said. “Anyone who doesn’t use nicotine shouldn’t start. Anyone who smokes should quit.”

It was the first hearing on vaping since the White House ordered a ban on many flavored products and raised the smoking age to 21.

But Democrats said the vaping ban isn’t strong enough.

“Teens find a big hole in the new flavored vaping ban,” Rep. Jan. Schakowsky, D-Ill., read a headline, going on to call for a full ban on all flavored e-cigarette products.

Fellow Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey said there should be more federal oversight.

“I heard all of you say over and over again you were responsible men… That is not true,” he told the executives. “People who have integrity and are responsible don’t sell products you admit make people sick.”

Anti-vaping advocate Tony Passino said he traveled from Indiana to Washington to witness the hearing and demand the federal government take action to protect teens from e-cigarettes.

“A new generation is becoming addicted to nicotine, and in my opinion, that’s not OK,” he said. “I’m here to hold big vape accountable.”

Democrats and some Republicans are debating more bills to regulate the vaping industry. One would force manufacturers to better label vaping products and accessories. Another before the U.S. Senate would require manufacturers to pay a tax to help fund additional oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.