Sample Comment for Public Health Advocates

As a public health professional, I am on the frontline of protecting the citizens of (city/state) from the devastating consequences of tobacco products of all kinds.

FDA takes some important steps in this proposed rule to regulate e-cigarettes, cigars, dissolvable nicotine products and hookah.  But there are critical gaps in the proposal that must be addressed in the final rule.

First, FDA should not exempt any cigars from regulation. Cigars are not just smoked by adults – kids smoke them too.  High school boys now smoke cigars at the same rate as cigarettes (16.5 percent for cigars and 16.4 percent for cigarettes), and more male high school seniors smoke cigars than smoke cigarettes, according to the latest CDC survey.  FDA should regulate all cigars and not try to exempt so-called premium cigars. According to the FDA’s proposed rule, “all cigars are harmful and potentially addictive” and “a large cigar may contain as much tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes.” Exempting any category of tobacco product creates a dangerous loophole that the tobacco industry can exploit to create and market products that appeal to kids.

Second, while FDA sets a national age of 18 for purchase of tobacco, there are additional steps FDA must take to protect kids.  Prohibiting self-service displays would help keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids by requiring customers to ask a sales clerk for assistance.These rules currently apply to cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which is why they are typically located behind the counter, and they should apply to cigars and e-cigarettes. Without a prohibition on self-service displays, these products can be placed next to candy in stores, making them attractive and accessible to kids.

Third, FDA should restrict e-cigarette marketing and flavors that appeal to kids.  E-cigarette companies are using the same tactics that have long been used to market regular cigarettes to kids – including celebrities and cartoon characters to pitch products, sponsorships of race cars and music festivals, and ads that portray e-cigarettes as glamorous and rebellious. E-cigarettes are also being sold in a wide-variety of kid-friendly flavors, including sweet tart, cotton candy and gummy bear.   It’s not surprising that the percentage of middle and high school students who reported ever using e-cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to the CDC.

Finally, FDA must move quickly to finish this rule by April of next year.  Too many critical timelines such as those for warning labels are tied to when this rule is final.  We cannot afford to wait for years for changes in the marketplace and to have FDA regulate cigars, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products.

 


Steps for Submitting Comments:

1. Draft your comments using some or all of the sample above
2. Personalize your comments with your own experience and local facts about tobacco
3. Click on the SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS button below and copy and paste the comments into the Regulations.gov form
4. On the Regulations.gov form, uncheck “I am submitting on behalf of a third party” and select “Health Professional” as the category

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