Federal Ban on Candy and Fruit-Flavored Cigarettes Starts Tuesday

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Sep. 21 2009

Washington, D.C. — One of the first provisions of the new federal law regulating tobacco products will take effect Tuesday as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces a ban on candy, fruit and other flavored cigarettes.

The ban on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes is a critical step to end one of the most insidious tactics the tobacco industry has used to target and addict children. The tobacco companies have a long history of using flavors to attract kids, and survey data show that youth smokers are much more likely to use these flavored products. Flavored cigarettes introduced in recent years have included Camel's Twista Lime, Kauai Kolada (pineapple and coconut), Margarita Mixer, Warm Winter Toffee and Winter Mocha Mint, and other brands featuring strawberry, vanilla and chocolate.

It is troubling that some tobacco companies may already be trying to circumvent the ban on flavored cigarettes. For example, Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia and is the nation's top distributor of clove-flavored cigarettes, has introduced clove cigars that look and, according to news reports, taste like its clove cigarettes. We are pleased that the FDA has put tobacco companies on notice that it is prepared to take aggressive action against attempts to evade the new law. In a recent letter to industry, the FDA stated that the flavoring ban "applies to all tobacco products that meet the definition of a "cigarette" … even if they are not labeled as "cigarettes" or are labeled as cigars or some other product" (Find the FDA letter online).

In June, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the FDA broad authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The new flavoring ban is one of many actions authorized by the law that will protect kids from tobacco addiction, stop tobacco companies from deceiving the public and reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use. The new law will also:

  • Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
  • Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
  • Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs.
  • Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar."
  • Strictly regulate health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
  • Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
  • Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels.
  • Fully fund the FDA's new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA's current work.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people, sickening millions more and costing the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers — one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

 

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