WASHINGTON, DC – May 3, 2017 – This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) took three actions that will likely undermine evidence-based cancer prevention efforts. The FDA will delay by three months the compliance dates for the final deeming regulations of all tobacco products, and postpone implementation of menu labeling until May 2018. The USDA also announced its intentions to weaken the nutrition standards for school meals and beverages.
A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:
“We are concerned that recent FDA and USDA actions to roll back final regulations will undermine recent progress made to reduce tobacco’s deadly impact on Americans and improve consumers’ ability to make healthy and informed food choices. Tobacco use and nutrition are two significant risk factors for cancer and other serious diseases.
“The health of the nation could suffer the consequences of any further delay in implementing laws intended to protect public health.”
Deeming on Tobacco Products
“We waited seven years after the passage of the Tobacco Control Act for the FDA to assert its full authority to regulate all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars and hookah. While the final regulation announced in May 2016 was an important step toward putting in place several strong public health provisions, the FDA should now use the full force of its authority to regulate all new and increasingly popular tobacco products.
“All regulations by the FDA need to be supported by sound evidence, including justification of any further delays or changes. Failing to do so could prevent us from saving lives, keeping kids from starting lifelong and often deadly addictions, and ending the scourge of tobacco on the American people.
“Twenty percent of all cancers are tied to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and excess weight and it is important for consumers to have access to calorie and other nutritional information to help them make informed choices about the foods they eat.
“Additional delays and changes that weaken the regulations requiring chain establishments to display calorie information for ready-to-eat food and beverages could prevent the public from being able to make informed nutritional choices that will help reduce the risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases.
“Eating habits are often established at a young age. Having access to healthy foods at school helps start children on a path toward lifelong health.
“The proposal announced by the USDA undermines progress made since the final rule for school meal nutrition standards was implemented in 2012. Ninety-five percent of schools have already met the improved standard. We urge the agency and Congress to maintain evidence-based nutrition standards for all foods sold and served in schools rather than reverse progress already made to set our nation’s youth on a healthy course.”