Talking Tobacco With the FDA

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Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA s Center for Tobacco Products, spoke at a tobacco policy conference on Monday. Jeff Stier got a chance to participate in the conference on Tuesday. The topics included smokeless tobacco (snus) as a means of harm reduction, and the FDA's deliberation of a ban on menthol.

I was honored to be a discussant on a panel yesterday with Drs. Carl Phillips, Brad Rodu, Joel Nitzkin, Michael Siegel, says ACSH's Jeff Stier. A key point that Dr. Phillips made strongly is that most of what the speakers said would be illegal if someone from the tobacco industry was saying it, due to how strictly smokeless tobacco companies are prohibited by the FDA tobacco legislation from making even truthful harm reduction claims.

They also talked a bit about menthol because the FDA is starting to focus on ingredients in cigarettes. While it s true that menthol makes cigarettes easier to smoke, banning it could have the unintended consequence of making homemade menthol cigarettes all the more desirable. The panel tried to emphasize that the most harmful aspect of cigarettes isn t menthol; it s the combustion of tobacco.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross agrees: If you inhale burned matter 20 times a day for 10 years, I predict that you will provoke all kinds of cancers in your body. That s why smokeless tobacco products are inherently less harmful, and smokeless tobacco companies should be allowed to say that.