FDA Bans Flavored CigarettesSep 23, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced a ban on cigarettes that contain fruit, candy, or clove flavoring. The ban, authorized by the new Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is part of a national effort by the FDA to reduce smoking in America. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America.
The FDA's ban on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes highlights the importance of reducing the number of children who start to smoke, and who become addicted to dangerous tobacco products. The FDA is also examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes.
"Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. "The FDA will utilize regulatory authority to reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco products to enhance our Nation's public health."
Flavors make cigarettes and other tobacco products more appealing to youth. Studies have shown that 17-year-old smokers are three times likelier to use flavored cigarettes as smokers over the age of 25.1. "Flavored cigarettes attract and allure kids into lifetime addiction," said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. "FDA's ban on these cigarettes will break that cycle for the more than 3,600 young people who start smoking daily."
The FDA is taking several steps to enforce the ban. A letter recently sent to the tobacco industry provided information about the law, and explained that any company who continues to make, ship, or sell such products may be subject to FDA enforcement actions. The FDA has also made an advisory available to parents on the risks associated with flavored tobacco products. "Youth are twice as likely to report seeing advertising for these flavored products as adults are," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a pediatrician and the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner. "Marketing campaigns for products with sweet candy and fruit flavors can mislead young people into thinking that these products are less addictive and less harmful."
The FDA encourages consumers to report continuing sales of flavored cigarettes through a special tobacco hotline (1-877-CTP-1373) and Web site (www.fda.gov/flavoredtobacco). Parents and consumers can learn more about the risks of flavored tobacco products at www.fda.gov/
President Barack Obama signed The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law in late June to allow the federal government broad authority over tobacco products and regulators to control cigarette packaging and marketing and how much nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—is added to such products, explained the Washington Post previously. There are about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion in healthcare costs linked to tobacco use in the United States every year. According to an earlier USA Today piece, President Obama said he is hoping to cut down the number of teens each day—estimated at about 1,000—who take up smoking. "I was one of these teenagers. And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time," said Obama, quoted USA Today.
According to the LA Times previously, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third—30 percent—of “youth” smokers will die prematurely from a “smoking-related disease” and those who begin smoking before they are 21 years of age have the most difficult time quitting. The NIH reports that about 25 percent of all U.S. high school students smoke, said the LA Times.