Newswise — Today, September 22nd 2013, marks the four-year anniversary of the FDA’s action – as directed by Congress – to remove all candy flavored cigarettes from market. The FDA has also taken other steps mandated by Congress to reduce tobacco use in the U.S, including requiring product ingredient disclosure and graphic warning labels on cigarettes, good manufacturing provisions and advertising restrictions. Despite these important actions, FDA has failed to take action on other dangerous tobacco products like e-cigarettes and cigars. The American Thoracic Society demands FDA move forward to proposed rules to bring cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products under FDA federal regulation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions recently released data showing that 1.78 million children have tried e-cigarettes. Like their traditional cigarette predecessors, e-cigarettes are addictive and have known adverse health effects. Also like their traditional cigarette predecessors, many e-cigarettes are being made with flavorings – such as grape, cherry and menthol – that are designed to appeal to children.
Many cigar manufacturers are also making products intentionally designed to appeal to children. Candy flavored cigars come in a wide range of flavors – chocolate, grape, apple, blueberry – and, priced at 99 cents per cigar or $1.99 for a pack of 3, are clearly within the price range of most kids.
The bad news is that these flavorings combined with marketing tactics are working. While cigarette use declined 33 percent between 2000 and 2011, use of large cigars increased 233 percent during this period. Other recent data from the CDC shows that among high school males, nearly as many smoke cigars (15.7%) as cigarettes (17.7%). For black high school males cigar use (11.7%) exceeds cigarette use (10.6%).
Today, e-cigarettes and cigars are being manufactured, marketed and sold without any FDA regulations. No warning labels, no disclosure of ingredients, no requirement for safe manufacturing practice, no advertising restrictions.
In 2009, Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate all tobacco products. While the FDA has made real progress on regulating cigarettes, they have not taken any action on cigars and e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry has. Big Tobacco has escaped the candy flavored cigarette ban by offering candy flavored cigars. Big Tobacco has sought to escape smoking bans by creating smokeless e-cigarettes. It is time for the FDA to use its authority. The ATS calls on the FDA to move quickly to issue public health-based regulations on cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. Further delay will mean more children getting hooked on these products and more tobacco-related death and disease.
Frank T. Leone, MD
Vice-Chair, American Thoracic Society Tobacco Action Committee