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Leading Health Groups Urge President Obama to Release Proposal to Regulate Cigars, E-Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products

(April 1, 2014) - Washington, D.C.

Six leading public health and medical organizations have asked President Obama to order the release of a critical public health proposal that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over all unregulated tobacco products.  The proposal has been stalled in the White House Office of Management and Budget since October 1. 

In a letter sent today to President Obama, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Legacy highlight the concerns about youth usage of cigars and the increase in youth usage of e-cigarettes, as well as a dramatic increase in poisonings caused by accidental ingestion of e-liquids, the liquid containing nicotine used to refill e-cigarette cartridges.  These liquids, which come in candy-and fruit-flavors that are appealing to children, can be deadly if swallowed by children and adults.  

“New and very troubling data from the National Poison Data System show that reports of poisonings caused by accidental ingestion of e-liquids, tripled from 2012 to 2013,” the letter states.  

A landmark 2009 law, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, gave the FDA immediate authority over cigarettes, smokeless and roll-your-own tobacco and gave the authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to deem other tobacco products subject to FDA’s jurisdiction.  Presently, e-cigarettes, cigars, little cigars and other tobacco products remain outside of FDA’s authority. In an April 2011 letter, FDA indicated that it would propose to expand its authority to include other categories of tobacco.  However, that proposed regulation was not transmitted to the White House until October 1, 2013, where it has since languished.

The groups’ letter concludes: “This public health regulation is long overdue….Further delays will continue to compound the serious public health and medical problems that are occurring as a result of these unregulated tobacco products.”

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