FDA kicking (flavored) butts with new ban

9/22/2009

ROCKVILLE, Md. Smokers who like a hint of clove or strawberry in their cigarettes will have to change their tastes under new regulations adopted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA announced Sept. 22 a ban on candy, fruit and herbal flavorings in cigarettes as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in June, and which created a new FDA Center for Tobacco Products to regulate them. The ban does not affect menthol flavoring in cigarettes.

“These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a statement. “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.”

Studies have indicated that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as smokers older than 25, and almost 90% of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers.

“Youth are twice as likely to report seeing advertising for these flavored products as adults are,” FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein said. “Marketing campaigns for products with sweet candy and fruit flavors mislead young people into thinking that these products are less addictive and less harmful.”

Tobacco has come under significant legislative pressure in recent years, from the tobacco bill to ordinances in Boston, San Francisco and other cities banning the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies. While the tobacco bill does not restrict tobacco sales in any particular type of retailer, the tough new regulations that it places on tobacco products – including requirements for stronger safety labels meant to discourage potential smokers, further restrictions on advertising and a requirement that tobacco companies provide a complete list of the ingredients in tobacco products – could wind up making them less profitable in the future for all retailers.

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