Health Groups Call for FDA to Ban All Flavored Tobacco Products

MARCH 21, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor
Several public health and antismoking groups are urging the FDA to enforce more stringent regulations on the manufacturing of tobacco products by banning candy and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars. The joint report was released by the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
 
In the report, which is titled The Flavor Trap, the groups advocate for strong FDA regulation needed to deter youth from the appeal of flavored tobacco products. According to the groups, recent legislation introduced in Congress would undermine the FDA’s oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars, despite evidence that flavored tobacco products are attracting a new generation of tobacco users.
 
A 2014 study highlighted the proliferation of unique flavored tobacco products in the market, citing more than 7,700 flavors made available. The report stated that flavored cigar sales increased by nearly 50% since 2008, and flavored cigars made up more than half of the US cigar market in 2015, according to Nielsen convenience store market scanner data.
 
Although overall tobacco use among youth has declined over the years, e-cigarettes and cigars remain popular, with evidence linking steady use to the emerging market of flavored tobacco products.
 
“Thousands of fruit- and candy-flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products continue to be dangerously attractive and popular among youth,” Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said in a press release. “Preserving the FDA’s authority to regulate all tobacco products is crucial to protecting the health and safety of the American people and preventing our kids from starting on a path to tobacco addiction.”
 
In 2016, the FDA issued a final rule that extended its jurisdiction to all previously unregulated tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs. However, 2 new bills introduced in Congress have the potential to limit the agency’s authority over these products that are already on the market, including the flavored products, and make it more difficult to remove them from the shelves.  
 
One bill would grandfather e-cigarettes, cigars, and other newly-deemed tobacco products already on the market introduced between February 15, 2007 and August 8, 2016. The legislation would exempt these products from critical FDA review that would determine their detriment to public health, and continue to allow tobacco companies to introduce similar products. 
 
The second bill would allow the exemption of “traditional large and premium cigars.” According to the groups, the legislation would likely exempt some cheap, flavored cigars as well.  
 
The report’s authors call for Congress to reject these proposals, and urge the FDA to prohibit all flavored tobacco products.
 
References
 
American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The Flavor Trap: How Tobacco Companies Are Luring Kids with Candy-Flavored E-Cigarettes and Cigars. Mar. 15, 2017.  http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/microsites/flavortrap/full_report.pdf
 
Booming Market of Candy-Flavored E-Cigarettes and Cigars Threatens to Hook a New Generation of Kids, New Report Warns [news release]. Washington. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ website. http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press_releases/post/2017_03_15_flavortrap
 

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