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Public Health Groups Urge Congress to Reject Proposal to Weaken FDA Regulation of E-Cigarettes, Cigars – House Appropriations Bill Puts Tobacco Interests before Kids

Statement of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association
June 19, 2015


WASHINGTON, DC – Our organizations urge rejection of language included in a U.S. House appropriations bill that would significantly limit the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to protect our nation’s children from flavored cigars and e-cigarettes now on the market, including e-cigarettes with flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy. The appropriations language would undermine a key provision of the landmark 2009 law giving the FDA authority over tobacco products and weaken the FDA’s proposed regulation of e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. Rarely has Congress so blatantly put the special interests of the tobacco industry above the health of America’s kids.

Over the last several years, tobacco manufactures have introduced flavored cigars to get around the ban on flavored cigarettes that appeal to kids, and e-cigarette manufacturers have introduced thousands of flavored products that appeal to kids. The proposed language would significantly limit the FDA from using its authority over new or changed tobacco products to protect our nation’s youth from these products.

This language was included in the House appropriations bill that funds the Department of Agriculture, FDA and other agencies, which was approved in subcommittee Thursday.

The 2009 law requires FDA review of new or changed tobacco products and applies to new products introduced after February 15, 2007 (called the “grandfather date”). This new product review is critical to stop tobacco companies from introducing products that are more appealing to kids, more addictive and even more harmful, which they have a long history of doing.

The House appropriations language would greatly weaken the new product review requirement for e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products that would be regulated under a proposed rule the FDA issued in April 2014. In fact, it would completely exempt from this requirement any e-cigarettes or cigars that are already on the market when the FDA issues a final rule, which is expected later this year. Exempted products would include cigars and e-cigarettes in an array of candy and fruit flavors that clearly appeal to kids. The proposed language would allow these products to stay on the market without any FDA review to determine whether they attract kids or otherwise harm public health.

This language is not only harmful to public health, it is also entirely unnecessary. The FDA’s proposed rule already addresses industry concerns that e-cigarettes and cigars now on the market would have to be pulled while the FDA conducts its review. Under the FDA’s proposal, all e-cigarettes and cigars currently on the market would remain available so long as they filed an application with the FDA within two years. During this time, companies could also introduce new products. These products would stay on the market until the FDA completes its review. The FDA’s approach sufficiently accommodates the industry while preserving the FDA’s authority to review the impact of each product on public health.

Recent surveys have underscored the urgent need for the FDA to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. The most recent government survey showed that youth e-cigarette use tripled from 2013 to 2014 (increasing from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent among high school students) and now exceeds youth use of regular cigarettes. High school boys now smoke cigars at about the same rate as cigarettes (10.8 percent for cigars and 10.6 percent for cigarettes), and cigars are the most commonly used tobacco products among African-American high school students, who smoke cigars at nearly twice the rate of cigarettes.

Congress should not interfere with the FDA’s ability to regulate these products to protect our nation’s kids and health.