WASHINGTON (June 17, 2014) – Alternative approaches to the proposed Food and Drug Administration regulations on e-cigarettes should be explored before final regulations are approved, said the R Street Institute in comments to the agency this week.

Authored by Dr. Joel Nitzkin, R Street senior fellow and public health expert, the proposed alternatives include classifying the differences in risk and addictiveness between tobacco and nicotine-only products, and cigarettes; providing different marketing, flavoring and toxicological guidelines for each major class of tobacco and nicotine-only product; and not restricting flavoring options for lower-risk products. Most importantly, the recommendations include the fact that the FDA should play a lead role in restating the goal of American tobacco control efforts from “a tobacco-free society,” to “a smoke-free society, virtually free of tobacco-related illness, death and addiction.” This should all be done while not stifling continuing product development. 

“As a public health physician, I strongly support FDA regulation of all tobacco and nicotine-delivery products, provided that regulation is evidence-based, practical and reasonably streamlined in a way that will protect and advance public health,” Nitzkin wrote. “As I see it, if the FDA opts to implement the letter of the Law without administrative discretion to accommodate contrary evidence, FDA efforts will do more harm than good in terms of future rates of tobacco-related addiction, illness and death in the United States.”

Nitzkin cautioned that while the tobacco control law was good public policy, it should not hinder product innovation and competition in the marketplace. 

“The law was intended to reduce tobacco-attributable addiction, illness and death, while allowing adults who choose to do so to continue use of tobacco and non-pharmaceutical nicotine-delivery products,” he said. “The law was not intended to eliminate such products from the American marketplace by imposing regulatory burdens so onerous that none but the largest of the ‘big tobacco’ companies could comply.”

The proposed regulations will be the subject of a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. 


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