The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Tobacco Control Act is one year old.
It was one year ago that President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, otherwise known as the Tobacco Control Act - a step toward regulating the unregulated and profitable industry of Big Tobacco, the public health nuisance known to kill 400,000 Americans every year.
The landmark legislation was designed to keep kids from starting the habit and help adults kick it.
For more than a decade, leaders of both parties have fought for the measure, battling strong opposition from the tobacco industry.
Stop Kids From Starting
The priority was to limit marketing cigarettes to children and teens, to set production standards, revise health warnings and to review the products that have marked an area of expansion for Big Tobacco including smokeless tobacco and cigarettes flavored with spice, fruit, and candy, presumably to attract young smokers to cigarettes.
The one year anniversary marks a new phase of FDA regulation expanding the agency’s role in protecting the public from tobacco products.
As of June 22 the FDA can:
· Enforce the FDA rules that limit the distribution, sale and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children and adolescents
· Prohibit advertising or labeling tobacco products with descriptions such as “light” “mild or “low” on the product, implying that it is less dangerous
· Require that new, larger health and warning labels for smokeless products labels and advertising as well as on smokes tobacco packaging
The FDA cannot require zero nicotine levels or outlaw cigarettes.
So far the Tobacco Control Act has established a user fee that funds FDA tobacco regulation activities. Tobacco companies must register their establishments and list their product with the FDA as well as disclose detailed information about the toxic tobacco ingredients and reveal their own research into the health effects of their product.
Menthol flavoring in cigarettes is now the subject of a study by a Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. Menthol flavored cigarettes are favored by the African-American community.
IB News reported in 2008 that researchers at Harvard School of Public Health found tobacco companies deliberately manipulated menthol levels in cigarettes depending on whether they were being marketed to young smokers or adults.
Tobacco companies used lower levels of menthol to hook young smokers who preferred a milder brand, while using higher levels of menthol to hook lifelong adult smokers, according to the study.
Menthol masks the harsh taste of cigarettes, leaving the first-time smoker with a milder, more pleasant experience.
About 90 percent of cigarette smokers become addicted before the age of 19, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A survey conducted by the American Legacy Foundation found 81 percent of African-American teen smokers prefer menthol cigarettes compared to 45 percent of Hispanics and 32 percent of white teens.
The U.S. Surgeon General first warned of lung cancer linked to cigarette smoking 45 years ago.
Lawrence R. Deyton, M.S.P.H., M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products says in a statement, “It is crucial that the tobacco industry, retailers, state and local officials, public health advocates, and the public understand this law, the FDA’s actions, and how they are intended to protect the public health.” #