Earth to Linn County: Even the FDA is OK with smokeless tobacco products

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The Linn County, Iowa Board of Supervisors will vote next month on whether to ban the sale of dissolvable tobacco products. They allege that such a ban will “protect children,” claiming that some of the tobacco products’ packaging resembles candy or breath mints. We beg to differ.

Though the County Legislature is framing the proposal as a public health measure, ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross thinks that it’s anything but. “Dissolvable tobacco products, which essentially pose little health risk, have the vast potential to help nicotine addicted smokers who are risking their lives every time they smoke a cigarette. These novel products can help hundreds of thousands of smokers ameliorate their nicotine addiction, so why would a governmental body propose a ban to oppose that?”

Even officials at the FDA — not known for tobacco-friendly policies — are more with the times than the Linn County Board since the agency announced yesterday that it will comply with the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which ruled that e-cigarettes and other products “made or derived from tobacco” should be regulated as “tobacco products,” not “drugs” or “devices.” E-cigarette manufacturer Sottera Inc. initiated the lawsuit because between 2008 and 2010, the FDA originally determined that e-cigarettes were unapproved drug/device combination products and banned their importation. However, the Sottera decision now stipulates that products made or derived from tobacco, such as e-cigarettes, will be regulated under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 unless they are “marketed for therapeutic purposes.”

We hope that Linn County can get on board with the FDA and ditch their proposed dissolvable tobacco ban since these products don’t jeopardize children’s safety in any way. “It’s already illegal for minors under 18 to purchase tobacco products in this nation, so this new piece of legislation is redundant and disingenuous. And if teens do want to smoke, they’re going to purchase the real thing — cigarettes — not dissolvable tobacco products aimed at smoking cessation,” adds ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.