05.11.16

SENATE DEMS: FDA Rule is Critical Step to Protecting Children and Teens from Tobacco Products

In new letter, 17 Senators applaud Administration for finalizing FDA authority to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco

Also urge FDA and HHS to remain diligent in working to further limit the effect and reach of these products  

Senators: “We look forward to working together to ensure these protections, and additional protections, are implemented as quickly as possible.”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, along with 16 Senate Democrats, sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), applauding the release of a final tobacco deeming rule which will grant the FDA authority to regulate all tobacco products. With this new authority, the FDA has the tools needed to crack down on tobacco companies that use manipulative marketing to encourage children and teens to smoke e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and other tobacco products.

“We commend the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for finalizing the deeming rule that extends FDA regulatory authority to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco, to protect the public’s health—and especially the health of the youngest Americans—from the harmful effects of tobacco,” the Senators wrote in their letter. “It is unacceptable that tobacco companies are once again targeting children using the same tactics they once used to promote cigarettes. For this reason, we recognize this rule as an important step to prevent the youngest Americans from becoming a new generation of smokers and are committed to continue working together to swiftly ensure, through the product application process and other means, that children are fully protected from these harmful marketing and flavoring tactics for all tobacco products now subject to FDA’s regulatory authority.”

The list of Senators also signing the letter include: Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Full text of the letter:

 

 

May 11, 2016

 

The Honorable Sylvia M. Burwell

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20201

The Honorable Robert M. Califf

Commissioner

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

10903 New Hampshire Avenue

Silver Spring, M.D. 20993

Dear Secretary Burwell and Commissioner Califf,

We commend the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for finalizing the deeming rule that extends FDA regulatory authority to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco, to protect the public’s health—and especially the health of the youngest Americans—from the harmful effects of tobacco. The deeming rule is a much-needed step to give the FDA crucial tools to prevent manufacturers and retailers of currently unregulated tobacco products from targeting our children and teens, and we urge your agencies to remain diligent in working quickly to further limit the effect and reach of these products on our nation’s youth. 

Public health awareness campaigns and FDA regulatory authority have been effective in preventing young people from becoming cigarette smokers, but tobacco companies continue to use manipulative marketing to encourage children and teens to smoke e-cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, there was a ten-fold increase in e-cigarette use among high school students and a record-high of three million young adults –including middle-school kids– using e-cigarettes. Following the deeming rule, we believe there remain critical opportunities to further restrict marketing targeted to youth.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently found an association between exposure to e-cigarette advertisements and use by middle and high school students.  As e-cigarette makers continue to target youth through channels that are already prohibited for cigarettes, like the sponsorship of sporting events and concerts, and television and radio advertisements, seven in ten young people are exposed to e-cigarette marketing, attracting millions of youth e-cigarette users. 

In addition, tobacco companies are producing e-cigarettes and other products in fruit and candy flavors, a practice not prohibited under the deeming rule. This is particularly concerning because children are more likely to use products with these types of flavors, and because children can purchase these previously unregulated products online without their parents’ knowledge. It is unacceptable that tobacco companies are once again targeting children using the same tactics they once used to promote cigarettes. For this reason, we recognize this rule as an important step to prevent the youngest Americans from becoming a new generation of smokers and are committed to continue working together to swiftly ensure, through the product application process and other means, that children are fully protected from these harmful marketing and flavoring tactics for all tobacco products now subject to FDA’s regulatory authority.  

Thank you again for taking this critical step to further protect our country’s health from the harmful effects of tobacco. We look forward to working together to ensure these protections, and additional protections, are implemented as quickly as possible.

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