Menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products unaffected
As of Sept. 22, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the distribution, manufacture and importation of candy, fruit, or spice-flavored tobacco products.
"Almost 90 percent of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers, and these flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., during a media briefing to discuss the new policy. "As a physician, a public health official, and a parent, I know just how important today's action is in taking another step toward protecting the health of America's children and ultimately reducing the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco use."
The FDA says that it is examining options for regulating menthol cigarettes, which are not included in the ban despite their status as the top-selling flavor of cigarette and rising popularity among teenagers. That issue, in addition to questions about how to handle flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes, such as cigars and chewing tobacco, will be reviewed by the newly established Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TSPAC). TPSAC, a 12-member body being formed to provide guidance to the commissioner, is expected to hold its first meeting in early 2010.
The removal of flavored cigarettes from the market is one of the first steps in FDA's effort to enact the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which granted the FDA with regulatory authority of the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products.
Since the act was signed into law on June 22, the FDA has made significant progress in its implementation. Last month, it officially established the Center for Tobacco Products and hired its first director, Lawrence Deyton M.D., M.S.P.H. The agency is currently accepting public input on the implementation of the act and conducting listening sessions with many stakeholder groups.
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