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Health Advocacy Groups Join Forces Against Flavored Tobacco

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As municipalities around the country take aim at flavored tobacco products, several health advocacy groups are asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make a flavor ban the rule of the land.

According to a new report issued by five public health organizations, fewer youth are smoking traditional cigarettes; instead tobacco companies "are enticing them with a booming market of sweet-flavored tobacco products" like electronic cigarettes and cigars.

The report, titled "The Flavor Trap: How Tobacco Companies Are Luring Kids with Candy-Flavored E-Cigarettes and Cigars," was issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

It calls on the FDA to prohibit all flavored tobacco products and urges Congress to reject legislation that would weaken the FDA's authority, especially over e-cigarettes and cigars.

To date, the FDA has only prohibited flavored cigarettes — one of the first moves the agency took after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law in June 2009.

According to the report, studies show:

  • E-cigarettes are available in more than 7,700 flavors, with hundreds more added every month.
  • The number of unique cigar flavor names more than doubled from 2008 to 2015, from 108 to 250.
  • Sales of flavored cigars have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2008, and flavored cigars made up more than half (52.1 percent) of the U.S. cigar market in 2015.

"Tobacco products simply shouldn't be sold in flavors that appeal to kids, let alone in thousands of flavors that make them seem fun and harmless," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 

"When you see a gummy bear e-cigarette or a cherry dynamite cigar, there's no doubt these products are aimed at kids. Our report makes abundantly clear why Congress must reject the proposals to weaken FDA oversight of products like e-cigarettes and cigars, including the flavored products that have flooded the market in recent years. Congress shouldn't be helping tobacco companies market candy-flavored products to kids," he said.

In August, the FDA implemented a new rule extending its jurisdiction to e-cigarettes, cigars and other previously unregulated tobacco products. Two bills before Congress would greatly weaken the FDA's authority, the organizations said.

One would move the grandfather date for newly deemed products from Feb. 15, 2009 to Aug. 8, 2016, which "would limit FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including the many flavored products introduced in recent years, and exempt these products from a critical scientific review to determine their impact on public health, including their appeal to kids," according to the advocacy groups.

A second bill would exempt premium cigars.

Instead of weakening the FDA's authority, The Flavor Trap report calls on the FDA to prohibit all flavored tobacco products, finding that "there is more than sufficient scientific evidence to support such a prohibition."

To read more on report, click here.

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