Federal regulators to review recently introduced tobacco products

Cigarettes and other tobacco products introduced on the market over the past four years will have to submit to a review by federal regulators, according to new guidelines released Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration will now require that tobacco products introduced or changed since Feb. 15, 2007, be "substantially equivalent" to products sold before then. "Substantially equivalent," according to the FDA, means the products "must be the same in terms of ingredients, design, composition, heating source and other characteristics to an existing, single predicate product or have different characteristics, but not raise different questions of public health."

The guidance stems from the 2009 Tobacco Control Act, which granted the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products. The guidance requires that manufacturers of new products apply for equivalency by March 22, 2011.

"No known existing tobacco product is safe, and a market order issued by the FDA for these products should never be interpreted as such," FDA Center for Tobacco Products Director Lawrence Deyton said in a statement. "One of the FDA’s missions required by this new law is to ensure new products do not pose an increased threat to the American public. These products will not be safer, but we are required by this law to not allow even more dangerous products to cause further harm to those Americans who use tobacco products."