Speak Out

Tell Congress Not to Tamper With FDA's Tobacco Authority

June 03, 2015 06:00 pm News Staff

A scant three months ago, the AAFP joined nearly 30 other health care professional and consumer advocacy groups in calling on House members to oppose exempting cigars from the FDA's existing power to regulate tobacco.

[Single cigar on white background]

"No tobacco product should be exempt from regulation -- and certainly not inexpensive and flavored cigars," said the Feb. 25 letter(3 page PDF), which was spearheaded by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in response to H.R. 662, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2015.

It certainly wasn't the first time the Academy has taken Congress -- or the FDA, for that matter -- to task about the agency's right to exercise its regulatory authority over cigars. And in all likelihood, it won't be the last.

Now, it's your turn. And it couldn't be easier.

Earlier today, the Academy sent out a Speak Out alert encouraging members to make their voices heard on this crucial topic by admonishing their representatives to vote down H.R. 662, which would prohibit the FDA from promulgating any public health protections related to "traditional large and premium cigars." The bill also would specifically exempt many machine-made cigars -- including those costing as little as $1 -- from agency oversight.

On top of that, the legislation could even permit some flavored cigars to dodge FDA regulation. These relatively cheap cigars -- sporting flavors such as strawberry, grape, cherry and chocolate -- are exactly the type of products that are attractive to young people.

According to national survey data, high-school males now smoke cigars (i.e., large cigars, cigarellos and small cigars) at about the same rate as cigarettes (16.5 percent vs. 16.4 percent). Overall, more than 2,400 individuals younger than 18 try cigars for the first time every day.

Don't miss this opportunity to tell your representative how critical it is to keep this regulatory power where it belongs -- with the FDA. Start by entering your basic contact information, and then you'll have the chance to tailor your message.

More From AAFP
Joint Letter to the House Opposing H.R. 2058(3 page PDF)