Photo by FDA

Photo by FDA

APHA champions efforts to help Americans live tobacco-free, including laws that create smoke-free workplaces and policies that make it easier for smokers to quit. Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a step in that direction.

The agency announced a “deeming rule” extending its authority to cover all previously unregulated tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, gels, and pipe and waterpipe tobacco. This means more public health protections such as health warnings, bans on sales to minors and more. However, the rule did not restrict e-cigarette manufacturers from online sales and marketing, specifically of sweet flavors such as cotton candy and gummy bears designed to entice youths.

“We’ve been waiting seven years for this day,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, in a statement. “It’s bittersweet, because we know kids will remain exposed to nicotine and tobacco products. For far too long, big tobacco has used savvy marketing and regulatory loopholes to sell dangerous products, and we have suffered the consequences as a nation.

“We’ve still got a long way to go to end tobacco’s destructive impact in our country. To date, 3,200 youth smoke their first cigarette every day. While today’s ruling is a major step, elimination of tobacco marketing to youth and other prevention and cessation measures are necessary to make nicotine and tobacco use a thing of the past.”

Find out more about our advocacy on smoke-free living at our tobacco page.