It’s been ten years since the FDA was given the mandate from Congress to fully regulate the tobacco industry and tasked with the critical responsibility of protecting the health of our nation. And still, the FDA has not fulfilled its mission to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco use.
It's Time for the FDA to Regulate All Tobacco Products
Saturday, April 25, marked one year since the FDA released its proposal to regulate all tobacco products, and we still don't have a final rule. That means it has been another year that the manufacturers of unregulated products have been able to peddle their deadly products to youth using the advertising playbook tobacco companies have used for decades.
Currently, no federal law prohibits the sale of dissolveables, gels, hookah tobacco, electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to people under age 18, including in vending machines. Furthermore, manufacturers market these tobacco products insinuating unproven and misleading health claims, and except for cigars, without any warning statements on their packaging or advertisements. Once the FDA's proposal is finalized, unproven health claims will be prohibited, sales to youth under the age of 18 will be prohibited, manufacturers of these products will have to register and submit ingredient listings to the FDA, and the FDA could require changes to these products in order to make them less harmful, addictive, or appealing. These are all common-sense regulations that the FDA has been empowered to implement since the Tobacco Control Act went into effect six years ago.
We've seen the repercussions of delays in finalizing meaningful regulations: more teens are using multiple tobacco products, e-cigarette use among high schoolers tripled in one year and nearly one in four high schoolers uses a tobacco product, a number that has not declined in recent years. We've also seen industry-supported, Trojan horse bills pushed through many state legislatures that appear good for public health, but change product definitions, particularly definitions of e-cigarettes, to make it harder to use proven tobacco control measures, such as increased tobacco taxes and smoke-free policies. Every day of delay is another day the industry can entice kids to pick up and try an e-cigarette, cigar or hookah for the first time, setting them up for a life-long nicotine addiction.
Last April, ACS CAN and its public health partners called on the FDA to finalize its regulation within one year. Now that the FDA has missed that deadline, ACS CAN together with 30 public health partners have sent a letter to President Obama asking for swift action to finalize that regulation. We're all making that message heard on social media as well. Please join us in our call for the White House and FDA to finalize meaningful regulations that keep these dangerous products out of the hands of kids by tweeting: