FDA takes first step in regulating flavors in tobacco products

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took its first step Tuesday in trying to determine how it should regulate flavors in tobacco products, which appeal to children but may play a role in helping some adult smokers move to potentially less harmful tobacco products.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, soliciting stakeholder comment for the next 90 days on data, research and information on the role flavors — including menthol cigarettes — play in tobacco usage, initiation and cessation.


“In the spirit of our commitment to preventing kids from using tobacco, we are taking a closer look at flavors in tobacco products to better understand their level of impact on youth initiation,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a press release.

“And as a public health agency, it’s important that we also explore how flavors, under a properly regulated framework that protects youth, may also be helping some currently addicted adult cigarette smokers switch to certain non-combustible forms of tobacco products.”

The issue isn’t new, Gottlieb noted, as concerns have swirled around how flavors in tobacco products appeal to youth and can be a factor in people starting to use tobacco at a young age.

The notice is seeking comment on the role flavors play in attracting youth to begin smoking, on flavors possibly helping some adults smoke less, public perceptions of flavors’ health risks and potential for addiction and more.

Last week, the FDA took its first step to create a rule to reduce the level of nicotine allowed in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels. Over the summer, the agency announced its intentions to regulate tobacco and nicotine.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network urged the FDA to quickly craft a proposed rule that prohibits flavors, including menthol, in tobacco products.

“The FDA must use the full force of its authority in a scientific and transparent manner to address flavoring issues, especially in regard to youth,” the group’s president, Chris Hansen, said in a statement. “Considering that tobacco addiction still kills more than 480,000 Americans every year, such action is critical to saving lives and reducing suffering from tobacco-related diseases, like cancer.”

Tags Cigarette flavored cigarettes Food and Drug Administration Menthol cigarette Smoking

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