Weakening FDA’s Authority Over Tobacco Could Impact Use, Advocates Say
Weakening the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority over tobacco could have an adverse impact on tobacco use, according to advocacy groups.
A group of U.S. senators is asking the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products to regulate a new form of dissolvable tobacco products that they say poses health risks, especially for children.
The senators are urging the FDA to reverse their recent decision not to regulate these products. In March, the FDA determined dissolvable tobacco lozenges made by Star Scientific are not subject to the federal law regulating tobacco. The company had applied to the FDA to have its dissolvable lozenges, Ariva-BDL and Stonewall-BDL, classified as “modified risk” products that would allow it to market them as less harmful than regular cigarettes.
In its application, Star Scientific argued that although its lozenges contained many of the same chemicals found in cigarette and tobacco smoke linked to cancer, the chemicals only appeared in “below detectable” levels in its lozenges. The company said this was due to the way it raised and prepared the tobacco it uses as an ingredient. The lozenges do contain nicotine.
KTVZ News reports that the senators opposing the FDA decision, led by Jeff Merkley (OR) and Sherrod Brown (OH), also include Tom Harkin (IA), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Ron Wyden (OR), Bob Casey (PA), Al Franken (MN), Michael Bennet (CO), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Bernie Sanders (VT).
The senators said the FDA’s decision could encourage other tobacco makers to sell flavored, dissolvable tobacco ‘candy,’ such as R.J. Reynolds’ Camel Sticks, Orbs and Strips. A study in the journal Pediatrics last year found that smokeless tobacco products were the second most common tobacco products ingested by children, after cigarettes. According to the news report, medical experts estimate that swallowing 10 to 17 Orbs could kill an infant.