April 27, 2012 (Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which they are members, approved report language that would urge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue deeming regulations asserting its regulatory authority over tobacco products – including cigars – as part of the FY 2013 appropriations bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies. The measure now moves to the full Senate for its consideration.
“In 2009, President Obama signed an important new law – the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act – that expanded the authority of the FDA to regulate all tobacco products. Because the law banned flavored cigarettes, many companies turned to flavored cigars to help attract and retain young customers. Cigars with candy-like flavorings such as strawberry, watermelon, vanilla and chocolate are marketed to young people, and get them hooked on this deadly and addictive habit at a young age. This provision encourages the FDA to assert its authority and take the necessary steps to curb the use of these dangerous products,” Durbin said.
“The emergence of flavored cigars is a transparent effort by Big Tobacco to work around the new tobacco control law. These flavored cigars are clearly designed to attract young adults and hook the next generation of tobacco users from an early age. This amendment is an important step to ensure the FDA uses its full authority to place reasonable standards on the tobacco industry and keep our kids healthy and safe,” Lautenberg said.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 gives FDA the authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and levels of tar, nicotine and other harmful products in all tobacco products. The law expanded FDA’s authority to include tobacco products such as cigars, pipe tobacco, and some forms of dissolvable smokeless tobacco; however FDA has yet to issue regulations asserting its jurisdiction.
Although the Tobacco Control Act banned flavored cigarettes, some companies are avoiding the ban by marketing their products as flavored cigars, which are not prohibited by law. Last year, Durbin and Lautenberg were joined by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in sending a letter to FDA asking it to issue regulations banning flavored cigars, which have recently become increasingly popular among children and young adults.