FDA releases tobacco regulation draft guidance


SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released draft guidance that ultimately will provide the public with previously unknown information about the chemicals in tobacco products and help prevent misleading marketing about the risks associated with tobacco products, the agency said.

The document provides guidance on how companies will comply with the requirement to report on the quantities of potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco products. "[Today’s] actions represent critical steps forward on providing Americans with the facts about the dangers of tobacco use and to stop children from smoking," Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "We will continue to do everything we can to help smokers quit and prevent kids from starting this deadly addiction."

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act requires tobacco product manufacturers and importers to report quantities of "harmful and potentially harmful constituents" found in tobacco products or tobacco smoke by brand and sub-brand. HPHCs are chemicals or chemical compounds in a tobacco product or tobacco smoke that cause, or could cause, harm to smokers or nonsmokers. All HPHCs included on the list cause or may cause serious health problems, including cancer, lung disease, and addiction to tobacco products.

While there are more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke, according to the agency, with the draft guidance the agency established a list of 93 HPHCs that tobacco companies will be required to report for every regulated tobacco product sold in the United States. Due to testing limitations, the FDA has targeted 20 HPHCs for which testing methods are well established and widely available and intends to focus reporting enforcement on these HPHCs during 2012.

FDA intends to make information about the amount of HPHCs in specific products available to the public in a consumer-friendly format by April 2013.

FDA also issued draft guidance on submitting applications to sell modified risk tobacco products — tobacco products that are sold, distributed or marketed with a claim to reduce harm or the risk of tobacco-related disease. The Tobacco Control Act establishes rigorous scientific criteria an applicant’s tobacco product must meet before FDA can allow the applicant to sell that product with a claim to reduce harm. The draft guidance describes scientific studies and analyses an applicant should submit to demonstrate its product will, or is expected to, significantly reduce harm or exposure to individuals, and benefit the health of the population as a whole.

"We are forging new territory to ensure that tobacco companies provide accurate information and do not mislead American consumers," FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. "We are committed to stopping such practices that may cause people to start or continue using tobacco products that could lead to preventable disease and death."

The draft guidance for MRTPs provides details for those who seek to market a tobacco product as modified or lower risk including how to organize and submit an MRTP application, what scientific studies and analyses should be submitted, and what information should be collected through post-market surveillance and studies.

The draft guidance document and a December 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine titled "Scientific Standards for Studies on Modified Risk Tobacco Products" are open for comments from the public until June 4.

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