• May 19, 2024

Time for urgent action

 Time for urgent action

The US’ National Tobacco Reform Initiative (NTRI) is calling on the Food and Drug Administration actively and expeditiously to pursue the course of action the agency announced in July 2017 ‘with respect to its proposed tobacco and nicotine regulatory framework that would focus on nicotine and support innovations to promote tobacco harm reduction based on the continuum of risk for nicotine-containing products’.
On July 28, 2017, the NTRI said, the FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, and the director of the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, announced new policy directions on tobacco and nicotine that called for a ‘comprehensive regulatory plan’ that would accelerate efforts in winning the war against cigarette smoking.
In a letter to the commissioner on the one-year anniversary of his announcement, the public health leaders who are part of NTRI said that while they had seen progress during the past 50 plus years in respect of declining smoking prevalence, an estimated 32 million US adults still smoked cigarettes. ‘Cigarette smoking remains this nation’s leading cause of preventable disease and death, responsible for about 480,000 deaths each year and costing this country approximately $300 billion in health care costs and lost productivity,’ the NTRI said in a press note. ‘With so many lives on the line each year, there must be an urgency to take bold, visionary actions immediately to reduce the disease burden that smoking addiction inflicts on the health of Americans.
‘While the NTRI fully supports the FDA’s announced visionary initiatives, we are concerned that the FDA is/will become mired in overly bureaucratic processes that will delay taking necessary and obvious steps to protect the public’s health. While some attention is being focused on the priority to consider reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes, the other equally important priority to establish a more workable and flexible regulatory framework to regulate all tobacco and nicotine products based on their risks and relative risks (continuum of risk) is nowhere to be seen.’
“[I]f prudent product standards and reasonable guidelines for making truthful modified risk claims are not available before introducing a product standard for reducing nicotine’s addictiveness in combustible cigarettes, the opportunity to accelerate a mass-migration away from smoked tobacco products, relegating cigarettes to the ashtray of history, will be lost,” veteran tobacco and nicotine researcher and NTRI member, David B. Abrams, PhD, was quoted as saying. Abrams is a professor at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, NYU College of Global Health, New York University.