Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Calling the FDA's bluff and saving smokers

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...

1 comment:

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