In 2009 The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act became law, giving the Food and Drug Administration “the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health,” according to a consumer fact sheet on the FDA website. One of the aims of the Tobacco Control Act was to curb youth use of tobacco since the majority of new users of tobacco products are under 18, the legal age to purchase tobacco products. But the tobacco industry has introduced products that not only appeal to youth, but get around loopholes in the law and cost the U.S. billions in tax revenue. Changes need to be made to the Act, and the FDA is asking for your input on these matters and others that fall under the Tobacco Control Act
For one, the cigar industry wants out from under any FDA regulation, but adults aren’t the only ones smoking cigars. According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, “high school students are twice as likely as adults – 13.1% compared to 6.6% – to report smoking cigars in the past month.”
When flavors were banned in cigarettes, manufacturers flavored other cigarette-sized products, wrapped them up in a thin brown paper-type leaf, and called them little cigars or cigarillos. Some manufacturers increased the weight of the products by adding additional tobacco or adding clay filler, like that in cat litter, to give the products additional weight and classify them as cigars. According to the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, 8.6% of high school students reported they had smoked a cigarette at least once during the past 30 days, while 9.3% reported they had smoked cigars.
While teens have been putting cigarettes down, they have also been using e-cigarettes in increasing numbers with use among high school age teens increasing over 100% in just two years. Controlling sales of e-cigarettes and the flavored nicotine liquid would help reduce these numbers as well as the number of poisonings happening across the U.S.
Another area the FDA needs to look at is tobacco and e-cigarette display placements in retail establishments. All tobacco products, including cigars of all types, and nicotine delivery devices such as e-cigarettes and e-liquids, should follow the rules applied to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and be placed behind the counter. This will minimize confusion between candy and tobacco. It will also mean sales clerks can control who has access to the products. Note the picture with the NJOY e-cigarette display on the counter to the right and the candy sign in front of it. The placement and bright colors of the packaging make it difficult for kids to know
In this day and age of the internet, it is too easy for youth to access websites and purchase tobacco products and e-cigarettes online. Age-verification procedures should be required to purchase all e-cigarettes and the liquids that go in them, much like those in place to purchase cigarettes.
The Food and Drug Administration is looking for public input as to these issues and others regarding tobacco and nicotine delivery systems, and has extended the deadline for public comment to Friday, August 8th.
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