Tobacco companies will be required to report the levels of dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes, chew and other related products, marking the first time the industry will be required by law to specify the quantities of dangerous chemicals found in tobacco.The requirement stems from new preliminary guidelines released last Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The agency released two draft guidance documents that implement provisions of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the FDA the power to regulate the tobacco industry. A signature element of the law called for the inclusion of graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging and their advertisements, a requirement the tobacco industry challenged in court, arguing it violated the free speech rights of tobacco companies.
Under the new FDA guidelines, the tobacco industry will be required to report the exact quantities of potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco products. The guidelines also provide guidance to companies that seek to market a tobacco product as one which reduces the risk of tobacco-related diseases.
"We are forging new territory to ensure that tobacco companies provide accurate information and do not mislead American consumers," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in a statement. "We are committed to stopping such practices that may cause people to start or continue using tobacco products that could lead to preventable disease and death."
While there are more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco and its smoke, the FDA has established a list of 93 harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) that tobacco companies will be required to report for every regulated tobacco product sold in the U.S. The draft guidance released by the FDA identifies 20 HPHCs on which the agency will focus enforcement efforts during 2012.
Ammonia, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide are among the ingredients or byproducts that will be subject to the new rule this year.
The FDA plans to make information about the amounts of HPHCs in specific products available to the general public by April 2013.
Although the 2009 law also gave the FDA the authority to set standards on the level of harmful ingredients in tobacco products, the agency has not used the power.
An estimated 443,000 people in the U.S. die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reports tobacco use has resulted in a huge economic burden, resulting in more than $96 billion in medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity each year.-
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