• March 2, 2024

FDA Tobacco Chief Discusses Relative Risk

 FDA Tobacco Chief Discusses Relative Risk
Brian King (Photo: FDA)

In an article published in Addiction magazine, Brian King, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), explores the chances and considerations for informing adults who smoke cigarettes about the relative dangers of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. He collaborated with Benjamin Toll, director of the Medical University of South Carolina Tobacco Treatment Program and co-director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program.

The commentary highlights the findings of a recent survey about misperceptions of tobacco product harms, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The survey found that only about 20 percent of adults who smoke cigarettes believed e-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes. While there are no safe tobacco products, the available scientific evidence indicates that tobacco products exist on a continuum of risk, with cigarettes being the most harmful. 

The commentary notes that opportunities exist to educate adults who smoke about the relative risks of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. However, these efforts should be accompanied by efforts to prevent youth tobacco product use; encourage first-line use of FDA-approved cessation therapies; and for adults who both smoke and use e-cigarettes, reinforce the importance of completely transitioning to e-cigarettes.

The commentary further emphasizes that any education efforts on the relative risks of tobacco products must be evidence-based. In particular, it is important to assess the benefits among the intended population (i.e., adults who smoke) and risks among unintended populations (e.g., youth). Currently, FDA is in the early stages of a research effort to assess messaging about the continuum of risk of tobacco products among adults who smoke.

Last week, the FDA announced a virtual listening session opportunity to verbally provide open public comment on the development of the new strategic plan, including proposed strategic goals. After introductions, the center will begin the listening session with an overview of the process used to develop the CTP’s strategic plan, including proposed goal areas.

Registration is open for the virtual listening session on the development of the CTP’s five-year strategic plan, which will take place on Aug. 22 beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.