by Countable | 7.31.17
On Friday the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new, comprehensive plan to change the face of the tobacco market in the United States. Smokers may be particularly interested in the FDA’s plan to enact rules lowering the admissible level of nicotine in combustible cigarettes. Overall, the new plan intends to make tobacco products "less toxic, appealing, and addictive." Formal, public dialogue begins soon to “seek input on the potential public health benefits and any possible adverse effects of lowering nicotine in cigarettes.”
The Hill reports that Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, believes the promising aspects of the plan are manifold:
"These include proposals to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels; to regulate the use of flavors in tobacco products, including prohibiting the use of menthol in cigarettes; and to develop more effective tobacco cessation treatments in order to help more smokers quit."
Myers took issue, and industry leaders celebrated, over the postponement of existing deadlines around e-cigarrettes. Prior to the announcement, e-cigarette manufacturers were facing a deadline of next year to seek approval to sell any product that entered the market after Feb. 15, 2007. Now they have until Aug. 8, 2022.
The use of e-cigarettes, called "vaping", is a valid harm reduction strategy, according to manufacturers. They say vaping provides the nicotine “hit” without the harmful ingestion of tar and other toxic chemicals involved in smoking combustible cigarettes.
Opponents maintain that flavored tobacco liquids designed for vaping systems with flavors like gummy bears, cotton candy and fruit loops are attracting kids to the product.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb acknowledged the issue in the news release, but insisted that the administration needed more time to come to sound, lasting conclusions:
"Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground."
Manufacturers of combustible cigarettes saw their stock prices plummet on Friday following the announcement, but then stabilize somewhat. They have committed to being actively engaged in the new rulemaking process, and seem cautiously optimistic about the outcome. The New York Times quoted R. J. Reynolds, which issued a statement that it looked forward to "participating in a thorough process to develop a comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation."
Do you support the FDA’s wide-ranging plan to change tobacco consumption in the United States? Do you think they’re going too far or not far enough?
Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Vaping 360 via Flickr / Creative Commons)
Written by Countable