U.S. Representatives Urge FDA to Reconsider Menthol BanArvin Peh
US congressmen urge FDA to reconsider the proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars to prevent illegal trade.
According to a report by CSPdailynews, 20 members of the United States Congress have written to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Robert Califf, stating that banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will exacerbate the issue of illegal trade in tobacco products.
The FDA is expected to formally release the final regulations for new tobacco standards in August, however, the ban will not take effect for at least one year.
The letter stated that:
When Congress created the Tobacco Control Act in 2009, the intention was to enable the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry properly. If the ban were to result in a large illegal market, it would only increase the risk to the American people, lead to more crime, burden law enforcement agencies, and create more community conflict.
Lawmakers urged the FDA in a letter to take illegal markets seriously. The letter referenced that the FDA could meet the needs of adult consumers through regulatory measures and establish control measures to protect children from harm caused by these products.
We urge you to reconsider the proposed regulations by the FDA on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and to avoid further prohibitive actions that may fuel the expansion of the illegal market.
Previously, Califf admitted at a hearing of the House Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Appropriations Subcommittee that the FDA is unable to eliminate illegal e-cigarette products from the market.
Despite the FDA’s efforts to regulate e-cigarette products since 2016, they have failed to bring order to this category. With a few exceptions, the majority of adult consumers’ needs have not been met.
In April of this year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) submitted a status report on the progress of Pre-Market Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs), stating that the review process is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
The agency has issued 45 marketing authorizations (MGOs) for tobacco products that have gone through the PMTA process, but no marketing authorizations have been issued for any other flavored products besides tobacco.
The letter states that the ban on menthol cigarettes will prevent approximately one-third of all cigarettes currently sold in the United States from entering into the legal and regulated distribution system. Lawmakers are concerned that this ban could lead to an illegal market similar to e-cigarette products, further increasing the burden on law enforcement.
The letter also mentions examples from Massachusetts and California, where the illegal tobacco market has continued to grow after the ban on flavored tobacco sales. The letter states that a large illegal e-cigarette market has now developed throughout the United States.
The letter stated that these e-cigarette products were smuggled illegally through the US borders and ports, sold in violation of state and local criminal laws, and sold without age verification procedures in place.
As of now, the FDA has not responded to the evaluation request from CSP.
Congress members are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review their proposal to ban menthol cigarettes in the United States.