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FDA Demands Info on Toxins in Tobacco Products

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Chemicals in tobacco productsSpurred by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, U.S. health officials announced on Friday that tobacco companies will have to provide the government with information on the amounts of 20 toxic chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products by June. Kristina Fiore writes for MedPage Today that the list of chemicals includes ammonia, formaldehyde, nicotine, nitrosamines, carbon monoxide, and other substances associated with cancer, lung disease, or addiction, according to Lawrence Deyton, M.D., director of the FDA’s center for tobacco products.

As Anna Yukhananov writes in a Reuters article that appears on HuffPost Healthy Living:

The ingredients won’t go on the packaging; rather, the FDA would compile information for each product and provide it to the public by April 2013. The FDA said it hasn’t yet decided how it will present the information.

These 20 chemicals are the easiest to test for immediately, but the FDA will later make companies provide information for a full list of 93 chemicals.

Around 8 million Americans have smoking-related illnesses, and those illnesses, such as lung cancer, kill as many as 443,000 Americans each year. “Smoking is estimated to be the No. 1 preventable cause of illness and death in the United States, and contributes about $96 billion each year to health care costs,” Yukhananov writes.

She reports that the FDA’s second draft rule announced on Friday requires tobacco companies to obtain FDA approval to sell “modified risk” tobacco products that they claim are less harmful than typical tobacco products. To apply for the approval, the companies must submit scientific studies and analyses to the FDA that prove their tobacco products actually benefit public health or reduce harm.

In a press release, Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, decries the tobacco industry’s policies, saying that for decades, it has deceived the public about the health risks of tobacco products, especially in its fraudulent marketing of light and low-tar cigarettes as a safer alternative. Myers writes that by taking action on Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will ensure that any future health claims about tobacco products are supported by sound science, and do actually reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco use. “For the first time, we have a policy that places protecting public health over promoting the tobacco industry’s products and profits,” he writes.

As Yukhananov writes:

The announcement comes only a month after the government suffered a blow in court in trying to enforce another tobacco law that requires companies to put large graphic warnings on cigarette packaging. A U.S. District Court judge sided with the companies and ruled the labels were unconstitutional. The United States is appealing the decision.

Image by, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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