In a recent Op-Ed for Reuters, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg boasted about the success of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The news would be quite welcome -- if only it were true.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the
new law's various measures is nil. Its ban on candy cigarettes and
requirement that cigarette makers divulge their ingredients will save
exactly zero smokers. And the FDA's recent attempt to impose large
graphic health warning labels on cigarette packages and ads is another
empty gesture: Most studies show that such graphic labels have no
impact. Dr. Hamburg's praise for the enforcement actions in the law
would be appropriate, except that those rules were enacted first by the
Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement in 1999.
Worse still, some of the prospective measures
the FDA aims to implement will actually be counterproductive. For
example, Hamburg claims that FDA researchers are aiming to reduce the
addictiveness of tobacco products. However, reducing the level of
nicotine will actually prove detrimental to smokers. A decrease in
nicotine levels will likely cause smokers to smoke more cigarettes, thus
inhaling more carcinogenic smoke, in order to get their nicotine fix. Read more here...