Tobacco Scientific Advisory Board Announcement Soon

So who will actually be selected for the key roles of deciding, among other things, whether menthol stays on the US market?  The FDA gave the industry until September 25th to name individuals for the three non-voting slots on its Scientific Advisory Board and then gave itself another 30 days, until October 24th, to send letters to those organizations telling them if they won a slot.  So I guess we will know pretty soon who these “deciders” will be.

Canada Bans All Flavors Even American Blend

American Blend cigarettes like Marlboro are now banned in Canada so the Philip Morris International subsidiary Rothmans, Benson & Hedges is now able to only exports its AB products.    Canada’s law banning the manufacture, importation and sale of flavored cigarettes and small cigars, except those with menthol, and prohibiting tobacco product advertising in newspapers and magazines, took effect on October 8th, despite criticism from the tobacco industry and lawmakers in US tobacco-growing States that the measure was too broad and would unfairly restrict the import of US-grown burley leaf since most of it is exported as licorice-cased blended strip ready for use along with other  cocoa and vanilla flavored leaf.  Anti-smoking groups said the criticism was unfounded since Canada did not import any US-grown burley leaf in 2007 and 2008, and “Americanblend” cigarettes make up less than 1% of the Canadian cigarette market. The anti-smoking groups also said fruit-flavored cigarettes and small cigars were marketed like candy to lure young smokers. The law had support from both government and opposition lawmakers (Reuters 10/8).

What makes this particularly interesting is that it now appears that at the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control meeting taking place now in Jordan, the TobReg committee, which is tasked with making recommendations about flavors in cigarettes, is apparently seriously looking at the possibility of recommending the elimination of all flavors – not just the characterizing flavors such as cherry, lemon etc.


A World Without Marlboro?

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Altria juggernaut, the one that worked with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to create the FDA regulation and its ban on characterizing flavors, except menthol and something called “tobacco flavor,” ultimately ended up by creating an FDA regulatory scheme that defined “tobacco flavor” so narrowly as to eliminate the vanilla, cocoa, licorice and other flavors that go into burley “toasting” and that were recently banned in Canada?  Now that the World Health Organization’s TobReg group is meeting this weekend in Jordan to lock down definitions of things like “tobacco flavor” as part of their work on Articles 9 and 10 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control wouldn’t it  be ironic if they came out against the American Blend cigarette?  Could it be that the success of Marlboro Lights as the kids’ cigarette of choice is due to the smoothness of an American Blend product?  What if the tobacco control world only wants harsh products on the market as the next stage in reducing tobacco consumption? Talk about Altria having opened up a pandora’s box.  No wonder they want the regulators to focus on flavored little cigars which are rarely if ever smoked by kids.

ASH UK Supports eCigs

Prof. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health welcomed Action on Smoking and Health UK’s statement (http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf) supporting the use of e-cigarettes by smokers who are otherwise unable to quit smoking, as it represents one of the first major anti-smoking groups that is in favor of allowing the product on the market.  ASH UK’s statement says it supports a “harm reduction approach to tobacco,” and for those who do not wish to stop smoking or find it difficult to quit, products that deliver nicotine in a safe way should be made available. Since most of the smoking-related diseases are caused by inhaling smoke, the e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the harmful toxins in cigarette smoke, are “likely to be a safer alternative to smoking,” ASH UK said. ASH’s US counterpart has called for a ban on e-cigarettes. Siegel said anti-smoking groups in the US support a policy of banning e-cigarettes, though such an approach would result in ex-smokers returning to cigarette smoking (tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com 10/15).

Coming Together Around FDA Compliance

I understand that two large and a number of smaller cigarette and little cigar manufacturers got together in a law office in Washington DC on September 11th to see if they shared enough common ground to jointly create a new tobacco trade association to lobby on FDA.  Does anyone know where this effort stands?

FDA’s Definition of a Little Cigar as a Cigarette

Based on a September 22nd news conference with new Tobacco Center head Dr. Deyton, FDA appears confused as to whether HR 1256 covers flavored little cigars and cigarillos as well as flavored cigarettes, which had to be off the shelves on September 22nd.  It appears that FDA conducted sting operations in Pennsylvania and Alabama and demanded that retailers remove Swisher Sweets and Black and Mild flavored cigars since under FDA’s interpretation of the law consumers could “believe” that these products are like cigarettes and are therefore covered by the law.  The question now is how far can FDA’s interpretation of consumer beliefs go?

FDA Submissions Here: Let the FDA Know What You Think

Click on the link below to let the Food and Drug Administration know what you think about the new Waxman-Kennedy law providing the FDA with regulatory authority over the tobacco industry.

http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=09000064809e74eb

This link takes you directly to Regulations.gov and the FDA’s Comment Page on this regulation. You can write whatever you want since a public comment period is indeed open to everyone equally: FDA does not look at who sent the comment only at the comment per se to see if it is useful to them as they plan their regulatory agenda.

As a reader on TobaccoToday, you are only too aware of the US Government’s evolving controls over the tobacco industry through FDA regulation and the role that Altria/Philip Morris USA has played in a process that saw them write this legislation alongside the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. As a reader you are only too aware that the public health community has been divided over the merits of this law and that PM expects to become a major beneficiary given that the law is directed largely at youth initiation not at adult smokers. It raises the bar on Tobacco Harm Reduction so high that Marlboro has little to fear from new products such as eCigarettes effectively enabling the most used cigarette brand to gain from further point of use/sale practices given that advertising is virtually eliminated. Adult smokers, still faced with the “quit or die” mentality that both PM and Tobacco Control encourage, are now less likely to learn that alternative forms of tobacco consumption are less harmful.

After you fill out the comments on Regulations.gov, feel free to copy and paste your comments as a comment to this blog, so your fellow readers at TobaccoToday can follow the progression of comments AND perhaps get inspired to comment themselves.

All Aboard for FDA?

Now that Swedish Match joined USSTC in supporting the Philip Morris push for FDA Regulation, followed then by North Atlantic Trading and Dosal, the odds of approval in the Senate, after almost certain approval in the House, appear to have gone up, especially since NACS, with its 50 State set of supporters, has also joined the bandwagon by not opposing the bill. Swedish has argued that an Obama-Clinton-McCain world might even lead to including cigars and other tobacco products so it is better to grab the best that can be had especially given Waxman’s concession on allowing a smokeless sampling amendment.

Yet the harm reduction elements of the bill, making it difficult if not impossible to deliver such products, coupled with compelling smokeless to adopt the same warnings as cigarettes, when everyone now knows that smokeless is less harmful, has caused a rift in the tobacco control community with those seeking less harmful products, less supportive, than those who represent the California extremist wing who support it.

Politics sure does make “strange bedfellows.” On which side of the fence do you stand?