FDA's 'first step' on tobacco rule is positive but not big enough, says the American Heart Association

by Retha Sherrod

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments today on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed rule to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products:

"This new FDA rule has been a long time coming and we have been anxiously anticipating its release. Rigorous regulations for the ever-expanding arsenal of new are mandatory if we are to protect the of Americans. Under this proposed rule, the FDA takes a strong first step in that direction and gives future generations a fighting chance to turn away from tobacco once and for all. We applaud the FDA for taking this action.

However, we believe the rule falls short by allowing industry to continue to advertise e-cigarettes, often with attractive and seductive flavorings, and increases the risk that we will raise yet another generation addicted to nicotine, before we even fully understand the health dangers of these new nicotine-delivery products. We MUST increase the pace of research, and understand the full range of health consequences, before we allow this Trojan Horse of nicotine back into society.

Alluring ads in major media has likely fueled the rising use of e-cigarettes by young Americans. We must close this gap – especially on the television and computer screens, where the nation's youth focus much of their attention. The association is disappointed that the FDA has chosen to delay action in this area and we will strongly urge the agency to revise the rule to include comprehensive restrictions on the marketing of these products.

Our nation's youth must be given a fighting chance to turn away from tobacco and nicotine addiction once and for all. In order to achieve that goal, the FDA must go beyond the regulations proposed today and stop the advertising, restrict the flavorings – including flavored cigars, which have replaced banned flavored cigarettes as a gateway for youth – and control the Internet sales, which can often be used to circumvent youth access restrictions. The association will submit detailed comments on how the agency can move more effectively in that direction during the comment period, and we will call upon all of our allies in the public health community to let the FDA know that, while well-intentioned, these actions are in fact short of what is needed. We are committed to working with the FDA to improve the rule and close these loopholes."

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