Rules for Students

Who Cares About FDA Tobacco Rules? 80,000+ Do

Who knew that more than 80,000 people would care about FDA tobacco rules? Well, it seems that they do. August 8 was the cutoff date for comments on the FDA’s proposal for regulating forms of tobacco and nicotine like cigars, pipes, and e-cigarettes. The total number of comments has already surpassed 80,000.

Now it’s up to the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) to review and consider all of them as it prepares to issue a final rule, expected mid 2015. The proposed rule would affect a number of industries (like cigar manufacturers and e-cigarette makers), and thus the consumers of their products.

But this is just the first step — FDA is simply establishing the basis on which the they can lawfully regulate these products. The 2009 law that gave jurisdiction over tobacco products to FDA only granted jurisdiction over specific types of tobacco: cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. These are certainly the major categories of tobacco products currently used, but the law omitted cigars, pipes, and the expanding market for e-cigarettes.

People disagree about whether the CTP is the right place to regulate some of these products, so even this first step will be met with controversy. And proposals for restrictions on marketing requirements — which we’re not even getting into yet — have already sparked public battles. Members of Congress are demanding much more restrictive regulation. The leading trade organization says the proposed rule will decimate their industry.

Hold on — it won’t be boring.

Click here to read more from The Hill and here if you want to browse the proposed rule and comments on it.

Thanks to our good friend Joe Gitchell of Pinney Associates for providing the basis for this post.

Rules for Students, photograph © Michael Stout / flickr

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2 Responses to “Who Cares About FDA Tobacco Rules? 80,000+ Do”

  1. August 15, 2014 at 6:24 am, HP said:

    Thanks for the post! I enjoy this blog and the critical look it takes at many of today’s pressing public health issues and the research that addresses these issues. Yes, it will be interesting to see how things unfold with regulation of e-cigs and other alternative tobacco products. One thing to keep in mind is that not all of the 80K+ posts to FDA/CTP’s solicitation for input came from Joe (or Jane) Citizen. All of the major tobacco companies own a stake in at least one e-cig manufacturer. The industry is a well-oiled (and well-staffed) strategic machine. It would be naive to assume that they aren’t engaged in this opportunity to comment. And while the scientific community attempts to sort out whether e-cigs are the next evil or the greatest smoking cessation treatment ever, we can bet the tobacco industry will be doing their best to keep and expand their customer base.

    • August 15, 2014 at 2:23 pm, Ted said:

      Thanks for the feedback, HP, and for sharing your perspective. You’re right about the 80,000 comments. FDA will likely group about 70,000 of them into a few mass campaigns that represent just one or two redundant comments.