To Curtail Early Smoking, FDA Bans Flavored Cigs
The FDA wasted little time in exercising its new authority over the tobacco market. (Although the federal action is more show than substance [see below].)
Candy-, fruit-, and clove-flavored cigarettes* are now banned in the United States, reported the agency yesterday. The legal ban is authorized by the recently enacted Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which allows the FDA to regulate tobacco products. The corresponding bill was introduced into Congress in March and signed into law by President Obama on June 22nd. If only healthcare reform worked that fast.
The FDA’s rationale for targeting flavored tobacco products is their appeal to young and first-time smokers**—an appeal that may lead to a lifelong smoking habit and its costly health-related consequences. The agency states that 3600 “young people” start smoking every day.
Citing a recent study by Klein et al, the FDA reports that 17-year-old smokers are 3 times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as older smokers (≥25 years of age). Data from 2 national surveys indicated that the rates of use of Camel Exotic Blends, Kool Smooth Fusion, or Salem Silver Label cigarette brands during 2004-2005 were 22.8% among 17-year-olds, 21.7% among 18-19-year-olds, and 6.7% among smokers aged 25 years or older. The cigarettes came in tasty-sounding flavors like “Mandarin Mint” and “Mocha Taboo.”
In an agreement with the attorneys general of 40 states, RJ Reynolds, the manufacturer of the cigarette brands, agreed to stop selling candy-, fruit-, and alcohol-flavored cigarettes in the United States in 2006.
The FDA also reports that it’s reviewing the regulation of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.
In the meantime, the flavored-cigarette tins, some of which remain sealed, can be found on ebay.
* So stage actors will have to use the real deal during performances that require smoking.
** Despite the fact that Gawker thinks they’re wussies for smoking flavored cigarettes in the first place.
11/07/09 update: On November 2nd and 3rd, the FDA sent warning letters to 14 companies that continue to sell flavored cigarettes through their web sites. The letters were the result of Internet searches performed by the FDA’s Office of Enforcement and the Center for Tobacco Products. Failure to comply with the recent US ban on flavored cigarettes may result in regulatory actions like seizure or injunction, the agency stated. The specific warning letters can be found here. The location of several of these companies appears to be unknown.