The war between FDA chief Scott Gottlieb and the e-cig industry continues to escalate with Gottlieb last week threatening to just say “Fuck it” and completely take e-cigs off the market.
To wit, the Food and Drug Administration has come out harshly against the e-cig industry beginning about six months ago because of the skyrocketing increase in teen vaping rates.
So, the FDA came out with a series of rules regarding e-cigs, including some restrictions on fruity flavours and the requirement that e-cig products only be sold in areas open to adults. The FDA didn’t get into marketing of e-cig products.
These rules weren’t as strong as what *I* had hoped for, at the very least, I liked an idea that was floated to restrict e-cig sales strictly to tobacco shops, but that got dropped, likely because of pressure from the industry.
Anyway, Gottlieb said he has met with industry representatives and he remains unimpressed with their response so far.
This is a quote from a Gottlieb tweet:
I still believe e-cigarettes present an opportunity for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes and onto nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks. However, if the youth use continues to rise, the entire category will face an existential threat
“I’ll tell you this. If the youth use continues to rise, and we see significant increases in use in 2019, on top of the dramatic rise in 2018, the entire category will face an existential threat,” Gottlieb told a meeting. “It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process.”
Gottlieb said he has met repeatedly with the vape industry. “I find myself debating with tobacco makers and retailers the merits of selling fruity flavors in ways that remain easily accessible to kids,” he said.
Last November, Gottlieb said he was starting the process to limit sales of flavored e-cigarettes, as well as to ban menthol in combustible cigarettes.
“I have questions about whether they are living up to the very modest promises that they made,” he said. “It matters if the e-cig makers can’t honor even modest, voluntary commitments that they made to the FDA.”
I’m curious if the industry is taking these threats seriously? Juul very quickly shut down its social media presence, but it might be too little, too late to slow down teen vaping use … or to satisfy the FDA.
Gottlieb said the dramatic rise in e-cigs is sabotaging the success public health advocates have had in cutting the teen smoking rate.
“This progress is being undercut — even eclipsed — by the recent, dramatic rise in youth vaping. A few years ago, it would have been incredible to me that we’d be here, discussing the potential for drug therapy to help addicted youth vapers quit nicotine,” he said Friday.
Gottlieb cited statistics about the large use of e-cigarettes by young people, saying that between 2017 and 2018 there was a 78 percent increase in e-cigarette use in high school students, and a 48 percent increase among middle schoolers. That means the total number of middle- and high-school students using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million — 1.5 million more than used the product the previous year. He added that more than a quarter (27.7 percent) of high-school-age e-cigarette users use the product regularly, and more than two-thirds (67.8 percent) are using flavored e-cigarettes.
“Youth use of e-cigarettes has become an epidemic,” Gottlieb said, adding, “It could be ‘game over’ for some [of] these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process. I think the stakes are that high.” Gottlieb also noted that e-cigarettes can be a helpful tool for adults trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, and said he hopes to avoid removing e-cigarettes from the market because of the good they can serve in that regard.
Stay tuned. Gonna be a rocky year on this issue likely.
Well, this is progress, I wonder if it will have any effect.
The FDA announced that it will soon ban the sale of e-cig flavourings at minimarts. This is in response to the rapid rise of e-cig use by teenagers. The FDA warned a few weeks ago that it was cracking down on e-cigs because of the epidemic of teen e-cig use. So, this is apparently step one.
Also, cartridge-based e-cig products like Juuls will no longer be allowed to be sold at convenience stores. Sales will be limited to tobacco and vaping shops. Juuls are relatively news, they’ve only been around a year or two, but their use has exploded (not literally) among teens.
That seriously limits the venues that e-cig flavours and Juuls will be sold at — basically from millions of convenience stores around the country to about 10,000 estimated tobacco and vaping stores. It won’t stop kids from trying to buy them, but will make it harder. And tobacco and vaping stores are more regulated than convenience stores.
The FDA, and this is a big one I think, is also going to impose more rules and regulations on online sales of vaping products, requiring stricter standards for age verification. Today, any kid with their own debit card can just click on “yes, I’m 18” on most of these sites.
Will these be enough to stop the epidemic of kids using e-cigs? Only time will tell, but the FDA suggested this is just the beginning of the steps that it plans to crack down on the industry and its lax attitude toward teen vaping.
From an NBC News article on the FDA’s move:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday that adult smoking rates have dropped to their lowest level yet, at 14 percent. But the CDC found that 47.4 million U.S. adults , or 19 percent of the adult population, uses any tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes.
Public health experts have been complaining that the fruity, candy-like flavors found in e-cigarettes are targeted directly at children and teenagers, and rates of teen cigarette use have soared.
The FDA has also expressed concern about online sales to teens. In September, the FDA made an unannounced visit to Juul headquarters to look for evidence about the company’s marketing practices. In April, the agency launched what it called a “blitz” to stop retailers from selling vaping products to underage children. And it has warned several online sites about sales.
Next week, the FDA will do more, the official said.
“We’re also going to restrict online sales only to sites that put in place specific age verification measures and limit access to kids that we are going to specify in guidance,” the official said.
“This is just the first step. We will consider other steps if use doesn’t come down, and sharply.”
Tobacco advocates question if the FDA is going far enough.
Public health groups including the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Truth Initiative and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, have been urging the FDA to move faster and to remove Juul from the market until it undergoes an FDA review.
“To reverse the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the FDA needs to stop the sales of all flavored e-cigarette products that have not been subject to public health review by the FDA as the law requires,” the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Truth Initiative said in a joint statement.
“There is nothing to prevent the number of vape shops from rapidly expanding and there is no solid evidence that vape shops do a good job of preventing illegal underage sales. In addition, youth use of e-cigarettes is not limited to Juul and other pod-type products. Even before the introduction of Juul, e-cigarettes had become the most commonly used tobacco product among kids and research found that 81 percent of youth who ever tried e-cigarettes started with a flavored product.”
Is this the beginning of the end for e-cigs in the U.S..?
It sounds like a hammer might be coming down very soon, one way or the other.
The FDA is really ratcheting up the rhetoric level against e-cigarettes this week, with FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb saying new data that is soon coming out is showing that the problem of e-cigarette use by teens has grown far worse.
They sound serious. I get a little jaded that the FDA will do anything about nicotine products, but I’ve never seen such strong governmental rhetoric against e-cigarettes before.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency will soon release data that show a “substantial increase” in youth vaping this year compared with 2017. He said the problem had reached “epidemic proportion.”
“I have grown increasingly concerned around what we see as rising youth use in these products, and I’m disappointed in the actions the companies have taken to try to address this,” Gottlieb said in an interview.
The FDA told five major e-cigarette manufacturers Wednesday to come up with ways to address youth use in 60 days or the agency could require them to stop selling flavored products that appeal to children. The products being targeted are: Juul, Altria Group Inc.’s MarkTen, Fontem Ventures’s blu, British American Tobacco’s Vuse and Logic.
Whoa, 60 days, so that will be mid-November.
And they’re going after the big boys. Blu, Vuse, MarkTen are about 75 percent of the e-cig market, not counting Juuls.
This new sense of urgency toward e-cigs appears to be driven somewhat by concerns over the exploding use of Juuls. Juuls are a relatively new kind of e-cig that look like a flash drive and are powered by actually plugging them into a laptop computer. They’re incredibly popular with kids.
From the Bloomberg article:
“This could result in a bullet through the head of Juul, the driver of youth initiation,” said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst with Liberum in London.
To gain clearance to return to the market, the companies would have to prove that the benefits to adults who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking outweigh the risks associated with youth vaping.
“I certainly am in possession of evidence that warrants that,” Gottlieb said. He declined to disclose the evidence.
Of the 3.6 million middle- and high-school students who said in 2017 they are current tobacco-product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul,” Gottlieb said.
“Juul was a game changer,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He listed three reasons the company became so successful: It figured out how to deliver high levels of nicotine in a way that wasn’t harsh; it packaged the product in a streamlined, clever way; and it developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette “cool and hip.”
Keep in mind, this issue here isn’t that e-cigs are as bad as cigarettes. But,they are a nicotine-delivery system and they are effectively getting teenagers physically addicted to nicotine. And nicotine addiction is a bad thing in of itself, regardless of the delivery system. And the issue here is e-cig companies have been BRAZENLY marketing e-cig products to kids for years. I know I’ve been railing about it for years.
Got mixed feelings on this one and I definitely need to get more information to have a hard and fast opinion.
The FDA, which under the Trump Administration I seriously no longer trust at all, is taking public comment on its proposal to drop the level of nicotine to “minimally or non-addictive levels.”
Seriously, considering who is the president right now, I’m amazed the FDA is going after Big Tobacco at all. Which makes me paranoid that this is some kind of end run that will end up actually helping Big Tobacco. How, I’m not sure, but I cannot trust this administration. It doesn’t help my paranoia that the tobacco industry is weirdly applauding the measure.
“Today’s advance notice is a request for information, not a proposed rule, and is the first step in a multi-year process that will require the agency to examine and resolve many complex issues,” said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria Group, Inc., which includes tobacco giant Philip Morris.
“As FDA has acknowledged, any proposed nicotine standard would need to be part of a comprehensive package,” he added.
“Altria has already been preparing for any reasonable potential standard, and we plan to participate in every step of this process.”
I’d feel more comfortable if the industry was openly freaking out about this.
Anyway, without getting into conspiracy theories, right off the bat, I have two thoughts.
If you simply reduce the level of nicotine, won’t that prompt smokers to smoke more in order to get the same level of nicotine they got prior? Remember, these are people already addicted to nicotine. I have no science to back this up, it’s just a thought on my part.
I CAN see a benefit that lowering nicotine drastically will make it much more difficult for young smokers to get addicted to nicotine to begin with.
“We’re taking a pivotal step today that could ultimately bring us closer to our vision of a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction -– making it harder for future generations to become addicted in the first place and allowing more currently addicted smokers to quit or switch to potentially less harmful products,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
A study released Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that cutting nicotine to a non-addictive level could mean five million fewer smokers in the first year of implementation.
Within five years, another eight million fewer people would smoke, and by 2060, the smoking rate in the United States could drop to 1.4 percent, down from its present level of 15 percent, said the report.
Anyway, interesting times. I will definitely keep an eye on how this turns out. I expect it will be a while and I expect Trump will be long gone before it comes to any fruition.
This is a really funny and fairly sympathetic piece done by Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” about the new Food and Drug Administration regulations and its effect on the vaping industry. The piece did miss one big point about the vaping industry, however.
The proposed regs, while missing a lot of important proposals anti-tobacco advocates wanted, like curbs on marketing and Internet sales, would require all vaping products to individually go through a lengthy approval process. Vaping advocates say this would cripple if not completely wipe out the vaping industry because the costs to go through this process would be so onerous. The FDA itself estimates that between 30 percent to 70 percent of e-cig businesses may be forced to go out of business due to the new regulations.
Full Frontal visited a vaping conference and did have a good time poking fun at vapers. For instance, Samantha Bee sends a correspondent to the conference rather than go herself because she doesn’t want to be around vapers, then the correspondent immediately runs out the door as soon as she encounters e-cigarette steam blown in her face. However, the show was fair to e-cigs and did acknowledge that some studies have shown that vaping is far less dangerous than smoking.
One thing I honestly learned from the segment is that there is a pretty distinct actual honest-to-goodness “vaping culture,” that at least according to the show, has a counter-culture edge. Sort of like cigar culture only with lots of piercings, I suppose. I never realized this culture existed, though, as I thought about it, some of the e-cig proponents I’ve dealt with online are almost messianic in their defence of e-cigarettes.
One thing the Full Frontal segment did get wrong, however, (and they got this like … reallywrong), was that suggesting that Big Tobacco has “struggled to compete” in the e-cigarette market. That’s really not true. Vuse E-Cigs (35 percent market share, Blu E-Cigs (23 percent) and MarkTen (16 percent), the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 e-cig brands on the market, are actually wholly-owned subsidiaries of RJ Reynolds, Imperial Tobacco Group and Altria (Philip Morris). In fact, these three brands represent a combined 74 percentof the e-cig market. Seventy-four percent is hardly “struggling to compete.”
Yeah, maybe Big Tobacco wants to crush all the smaller makers through FDA regulations (Though, Altria has expressed its opposition to the FDA regulations), but if that’s the case, the real story is the tobacco industry is already deeply entrenched in and dominating the e-cig industry. Will these regulations help Big Tobacco dominate it even more? Full Frontal didn’t even mention that Big Tobacco owns the three most dominant e-cigarette brands and I really think the show either missed or ignored that dynamic between Big Tobacco and e-cigarettes.
At long last, after TWO years of deliberations, the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week FINALLY issued a ruling on e-cigarette (and tobacco) regulation.
Unfortunately, this came at a time when I was really busy, plus I wanted to take a few days to digest the news.
My initial reaction to the news was disappointment that the FDA will do nothing to control e-cigarette marketing, online sales or candy flavourings. The biggest obvious change is the sale of e-cig products to minors will be banned. However, over 40 states already ban e-cig sales to minors, so this ruling is a bit cosmetic.
However, then I started reading comments from the e-cigarette industry absolutely FREAKING OUT over these regs, and I started thinking, “wow, if the e-cigarette industry is so pissed off, the regs can’t be that bad.”
It turns out the FDA ruling is pretty complex, and I’m personally still sifting through it to see what it means, and I fully expect to be writing more posts about this over the next several weeks and months. I saw several headlines that screamed, “E-cigarettes virtually banned.” Here’s what they’re talking about and what turns out might be the biggest effect of this ruling: The FDA will require that all tobacco products (which under the FDA definition includes e-cigs even though they don’t actually contain tobacco — they do contain nicotine) that hit the market since 2007 must be individually approved by the FDA. E-cigs were basically non-existent before 2007, so this affects nearly all e-cig products.
That means nearly every e-cigarette on the market — and every different flavor and nicotine level — would require a separate application for federal approval. Each application could cost $1 million or more, says Jeff Stier, an e-cigarette advocate with the National Center for Public Policy Research and industry officials.
One million dolalrs each for every flavour? Holy cow, on the face of it, that would cripple the industry. Sure enough, industry leaders are incensed.
Ray Story, the founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, called the ruling “a complete disaster.” Since 2009, his association has advocated for a change in the law that would require age verification and restrict sales to minors.
“No children should have access to these products. Just like with alcohol, these are adult products,” he said.
What he takes issue with is the FDA requirement for approval on the products, down to the batteries. He said the rule “essentially bans the product across the land.”
E-cigarette shouldn’t be sold to minors, and government should restrict advertising so they aren’t marketed to kids. But the FDA’s drastic overstep today will require e-cigarettes not already on the market by February 2007 to undergo a costly and onerous Premarket Tobacco Application process that holds e-cigarettes to a standard nearly impossible to prove, and one that well-established actual cigarettes don’t have to face.
By the way, this commentary was actually written by Jeff Stier, who is from an organization called the National Center for Public Policy Research, which is described by Wikipedia as a “conservative think tank.” These are the same kind of “think tanks” that claimed for decades that there was no proof that smoking caused lung cancer or that secondhand smoke was completely harmless. If that wasn’t convincing enough … the National Center for Public Policy Research actually receives some of its funding from Big Tobacco and Big E-Cig (Which is rapidly becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Tobacco). So take this hyperbole with as many grains of salt as you please. I take it was LOT of grains of salt.
Now, it could be these industry folks are being hyperbolic as hell. I remember back in the day everyone thought the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement was going to be the death of Big Tobacco. But, I love that the e-cig industry is freaking out. GOOD. They deserve to freak out.
Here’s why. I walk a fine line with e-cigs. I get it that e-cigs genuinely help some people get off cigarettes. There’s mixed data about the effectiveness of e-cigs as a tool for smoking cessation. But, I’ve seen enough anecdotal information online about people praising them for helping to get them off cigarettes to believe that they have a genuine value.
However, here is the problem with e-cigs. It has been painfully clear to people actually paying attention that e-cigs are blatantly marketing their products to kids … using actors dressed up as race car drivers, using women’s panties, even using Santa Clause … to sell e-cigs. Jesus …even Santa Clause? Big Tobacco did this kind of stuff 60 years ago, heck they were still using race car imagery with Joe Camel as recently as 20 years ago.
They’re using this hip, young, active, savvy, sexy imagery to addict teenagers to nicotine. For all of the benefits of e-cigs, and it appears there are some real benefits, it’s still a delivery system for nicotine. And nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. And people still don’t know what all is in e-cigarette steam. We know it contains formaldehyde and another chemical called diacetyl, which causes a disease known as “popcorn lung.”
From another very well-written USA Today editorial, this written by the USA Today editorial board of directors, appropriate titled “FDA takes e-cigs out of ‘wild West'”:
Once before, the nation let an addictive product get by with little regulation. By the time the surgeon general first warned of cigarettes’ deadly dangers in 1964, about four in 10 Americans were already hooked. It has taken more than 50 years and a costly war on smoking to cut that adult rate in half and to bring teen smoking down to about 9%.
No wonder the government and public health advocates are wary of these new “vaping” products, which also contain nicotine, and some of which are made by the same companies that brought the nation Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.
While advocates for e-cigarettes talk about their potential upside in the future — getting smokers to quit — they seldom acknowledge the facts on the ground right now: E-cig use among teenagers is exploding. Last year, 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the past month, making the devices more popular than traditional cigarettes among teens, according to a national survey by the federal government. That’s up from 1.5% in 2011 — an astounding rise.
Promoters argue that teens are switching to a safer product. Great if true. But some earlier data show that many teens who use e-cigarettes have not smoked traditional cigarettes before. Exactly how many fit that description now is a key question that researchers need to sort out.
Industry players also underscore that their products are only for adults. Their advertising says otherwise: The women who vape are sexy and glamorous, the men rugged and rebellious, the very themes that attracted generations of teens to traditional cigarettes. In stores, e-cigarettes are sold above ice cream freezers, next to candy and in flavors that include Cherry Crush and Gummy Bear. About 85% of youths who had used e-cigs in the past 30 days used ones that were flavored.
Game. Set. Match. Thank you, USA Today.
These rules will not go into effect immediately. I was initially deeply disappointed in the lack of regs over e-cig marketing (I believe the FDA was wary of going here because of fears over First Amendment lawsuits, and guess what, if the FDA loses a First Amendment lawsuit over e-cigs, that might affect the federal government’s ability to regulate marketing of cigarettes.). I don’t get as worked up about the candy flavouring because so many adult users have told me they like the sweet flavours, too, but I know a lot of anti-tobacco advocates hate that e-cigs are allowed to have sugary flavours.
But, this subtle little language about requiring all e-cig products to be approved by the FDA might reel in this out-of-control industry, which is selling a drug and is selling an addictive drug … to kids … with a wink and a nod … “Moi? Not us!”
Now, there is apparently legislation in Congress to push up this 2007 date and grandfather current e-cig products so they wouldn’t require individual review by the FDA. Golly wonder whose lobbyists might be behind that? I hope Obama and any other future Democratic president vetoes any such legislation that reaches his or her desk. The e-cig industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, about 40 percent of which is actually owned by Big Tobacco. It can damn well pony up to have its products approved fair and square.
I will be posting more on this, I promise, as the story develops.
There are two bills floating through Congress that would cut more than 50 percent of the funding for a Centers for Disease Control program to prevent kids from taking up smoking and for helping them to quit once they’ve started.
The second bill is even more heinous. It would restrict the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight over e-cigarettes and candy-flavoured cigars., including oversight over new tobacco products.
Gosh, I wonder who is lobbying for both of these bills?
Even though the editorial doesn’t get into partisanship, it’s also pretty obvious to me that these are likely both Republican-sponsored bills. Why they would want to cut funding for tobacco education and prevention is beyond me. I have no doubt the people behind these bills are receiving campaign contributions from Big Tobacco. It’s so cynical. And 77 percent of Big Tobacco’s political contributions go toward Republicans.
Fortunately, even though these provisions have been approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, I doubt that either bill will become law, as long as a Democrat is in the White House. But, what a waste of time and energy to be even be proposed such ridiculous ideas.
The FDA is expected to release rules and regulations — eventually, one of these days — regarding e-cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration, which for the most part has taken a pretty milquetoast approach to administering tobacco products ever since the agency was given regulatory authority over nicotine, just banned four new RJ Reynolds brands.
RJ Reynolds, long known to tobacco control advocates as the truly sleaziest tobacco company out there, will be forced to pull the brands — Camel Crush Bold, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter, Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter Menthol and Vantage Tech 13 — and to stop selling them because they are new “formulations.” (Camel Crush Bold is the only one I’m familiar with.).
One part of the problem with the new brands is that one of them had a new delivery system of adding menthol to the tobacco, while RJ Reynolds resisted the FDA on providing information on the sweeteners and formulations of the new brands. From the NBC News article:
The FDA said the Camel Crush product has a little capsule of menthol in the filter that’s new. After “considerable back and forth” R.J. Reynolds was unable to show that the menthol capsule didn’t change the product’s risk and didn’t change how consumer might view the brand. As for the Pall Mall products, the company wouldn’t give FDA enough information about sweeteners and other flavors added to the cigarettes, Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told reporters.
Retailers have 30 days to remove these brands from theirs shelves. After 30 days, the FDA has the power to simply seize them from the shelves.
From NBC News:
“Today’s decision sets an important precedent that almost certainly will apply to other brands. The FDA’s action is a critical step in preventing the introduction of tobacco products that may be more appealing to youth, more addictive or more harmful,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.
“Tobacco manufacturers have a long history of continually modifying their products to make them more attractive and more addictive and introducing new brands and styles designed to appeal to specific segments of the market, including children. These tactics have been spectacularly successful in attracting new smokers, most of whom are children, and in discouraging current smokers from quitting.”
The FDA recently cracked down on RJ Reynolds for labeling its “American Spirit” brand of cigarettes as a “natural” cigarette. The agency is still holding off on regulations regarding e-cigarettes. Advocates have been waiting for months for the FDA to finally release final regs on e-cigs. So far, the agency has only proposed to disallow the sale of e-cigs to minors, which is already banned in most states. Tobacco control advocates want the FDA to ban Internet sales of e-cigs, crack down on e-cig marketing obviously directed at teens and ban sugary, fruity flavours of e-cigs.
Awesome story. The Food and Drug Administration told RJ Reynolds and other cigarette companies to stop it with their false advertising about “natural tobacco” cigarette products — this includes the infamous “American Spirit” brand of cigarettes.
American Spirit claims to be a “natural, additive-free” cigarette brand. A lot of people believe these are Native-made cigarettes, but in fact, American Spirit is a wholly owned subsidiary of RJ Reynolds, makers of Camel cigarettes and plenty of other nasty-ass brands. It’s all a big show that has fooled many people.
“The FDA has determined that these products, described as ‘natural’ and ‘additive-free’ on their labeling, need an FDA modified risk tobacco product order before they can be legally introduced as such into interstate commerce,” the agency said in a statement.
“The FDA’s job is to ensure tobacco products are not marketed in a way that leads consumers to believe cigarettes with descriptors like ‘additive-free’ and ‘natural’ pose fewer health risks than other cigarettes, unless the claims have been scientifically supported,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
“This action is a milestone, and a reminder of how we use the tools of science-based regulation to protect the U.S. public from the harmful effects of tobacco use.”
This affects a couple of other brands, but American Spirit is the most high-profile. This has been yet again one of Big Tobacco’s big lies. That somehow tobacco brands with fewer additives are “natural” and (hint, hint) without actually coming right out and saying so, because coming right out and saying so would be incredibly @#$%ing illegal, they’re some safer or healthier.
Nope, nope, nope, nothing could be further from the truth. These brands (two others I hadn’t heard of previously are Nat Sherman and ITG) are NOT safer and do NOT contain fewer additives. Many years ago, Big Tobacco kept trying to find sneaky and dishonest ways to market their products as somehow being safer or “approved by doctors.” The industry’s lies about these ads was long ago exposed. The whole “natural” and “additive-free” lie is using the same techniques as the old “four out of five doctors approve Camels” ads from the 1940s and 1950s.
The FDA several years ago was given regulatory authority over tobacco and specifically nicotine by a bill signed by Barack Obama. That authority gives the FDA the authority to control the marketing of cigarette products. The whole “natural, additive-free” fight has been a thorn in the side of tobacco control advocates for years. And now, it appears the FDA isn’t screwing around and cracking down.
By the same token, I believe the FDA could use this same power to crack down on the marketing of e-cigs, since they are likewise a nicotine product.
As an aside, several years ago, a really angry email from me actually convinced Discovery Magazine to drop “American Spirit” ads from its magazine. A reminder that giving a damn can make a real difference sometimes.
The other day, I was wondering, “what the hell is going on with the Food and Drug Administration and e-cigarettes, it’s been forever since I last heard.”
So, a quick Google and found stories stating that I’m not the only one out there wondering, “what the hell?”
Over a year ago, the FDA released its proposed regulations for e-cigarettes. The agency received so many comments about the draft regs that the comment period was extended. Over a year later, we’re still waiting for a response.
The FDA did one right thing in its draft regulations, which was to ban all e-cig sales to minors (42 states have already banned e-cig sales to minors, but this is not slowing their popularity with kids.). However, in the draft regs, the agency completely punted on regulating sugary candy flavours for e-cigs (Even though the FDA banned sugary, candy-flavoured cigarettes) and ignored regulating e-cig marketing (Again … even though the federal government has strict guidelines for tobacco advertising, like no more Joe Camels.).
Many of the comments the FDA received were outrage over the lack of regs over flavourings and marketing. I’m not sure how to read the long delay for the final regs, I’d like to think it’s taking so long because they’re making a lot of changes, but I’m not that naive to think a federal agency is actually going to listen to the public.).
Last week, 31 public health organizations urged the FDA to stop dawdling and taking action. In the past year since the FDA has been working on the final version of the regulations, teen e-cigarette use has skyrocketed (It literally has more than tripled since 2013, which is hard to believe.). These groups agree that regs regarding marketing and flavouring need to be stronger than what was in the draft rules (I feel very strongly that the feds need to crack down on the out-of-control Joe Camelesque advertising for e-cigs, and I’m starting to feel more strongly about them banning the candy flavours, too.):
From a Time.com article:
The medical groups say cigar and e-cigarette brands are using marketing tactics that they feel appeal directly to young people, like promoting candy and fruit-flavored products, and they want regulations to put an end to it.
“It’s no wonder use of e-cigarettes by youth has skyrocketed,” the letter reads. “This process has already taken far too long. We cannot afford more delays that allow tobacco companies to target our kids with a new generation of tobacco products.”
“My concern is always the first-time users,” says Shyam Biswal, a professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It’s bad it took so long to make a dent in [conventional] tobacco users, and we are now starting something else, and we are just waiting and waiting and waiting. We don’t have the data that e-cigarettes are a gateway [to other tobacco products], so we just wait. It should not be like that.”
Noted tobacco control advocate Stanton Glantz sounds like he’s in the same boat with me about the FDA, given the agency’s track record so far with tobacco. (The FDA gained regulatory control over tobacco products in 2009.)
“Given that the White House has blocked eliminating menthol from cigarettes for years despite strong evidence—including from the FDA’s own analysis that doing so would protect public health—I am not holding my breath,” Glantz said.
I mean, I expected the FDA to begin actually regulating nicotine when it took over tobacco regulation six years ago, and other than banning candy flavours for cigarettes and bidis, it hasn’t done all that much with nicotine. This agency moves glacially slow. It’s frustrating.