In the first move since the Food and Drug Administration took over regulating tobacco products last June, the agency has announced a ban on cigarettes that are flavored with cloves, vanilla, and fruit flavors.
The move is part of an effort to reduce smoking in America. Presumably, using flavored tobacco induces young people to begin the lifetime habit of smoking.
"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. in a press announcement.
"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."
The agency says that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as smokers age 25 or older. Menthol has been used to entice new smokers, said researchers in a study last year out of Harvard School of Public Health.
The FDA is warning companies not to try and skirt the ban by introducing little cigars and claiming are not cigarettes, therefore are not regulated.
The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products considers any rolled tobacco product to fall into the cigarette definition, but an FDA lawyer told the Wall Street Journal they would have to look at “little cigars” on a case-by-case basis.
One company, Kretek International, has stated to market small cigars that contain clove and vanilla flavorings, presumably to get around the ban on flavored cigarettes. Flavored cigarettes reportedly account for a small segment of cigarettes sold in the U.S.
The FDA says that any company violating the ban by making, shipping, or selling such products may be subject to FDA enforcement action.
The FDA is providing a special tobacco hotline (1-877-CTP-1373) and Web site (www.fda.gov/flavoredtobacco) to report sales.
In 2006, R. J. Reynolds agreed to stop marketing flavored Camel cigarettes in the U.S. as part of an agreement with the states.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says whether they are flavored cigarettes or cigars, “They are starter products, said Matthew Myers, president.
In an effort to phase out smoking in public, 27 states including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have passed smoke-free laws that extend to restaurants and bars. #