Senate Dems push FDA to reject alternative cigarette health claims

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A group of Senate Democrats is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reject an application from Big Tobacco to market a new “heat not burn” cigarette as less risky.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter Wednesday signed by eight other Democrats asking FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to deny Philip Morris International’s modified risk application for its new IQOS product, given the recent mixed findings from an FDA advisory board.

The majority of the FDA’s Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee panel said last month the company had not proven its product reduced the risk of tobacco-related diseases or that switching to the product presents less of a risk than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

But the board unanimously agreed that switching from cigarettes to the IQOS system, which the company says heats tobacco enough to produce a vapor but doesn’t burn the tobacco, significantly reduces a person’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals.

Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the senators said a modified risk tobacco product must both substantially reduce harm of disease to individual tobacco users and benefit population health.

“Many of us wrote to you in October urging a strict adherence to the Tobacco Control Act’s statutory requirements when evaluating applications for [modified risk tobacco product] claims,” they wrote. “Such thorough review is especially critical given the tobacco industry’s deceitful history of marketing products under the guise of lower risk.”

In addition to Durbin and Blumenthal, the letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jack Reed (R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

Tags Chris Van Hollen Dick Durbin Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Jack Reed Jeff Merkley Patty Murray Sheldon Whitehouse Sherrod Brown

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