tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Altria vs. the FDA: More than a Mild Dispute

Marlboro Lights are no more. From now on smokers will have to ask for /cigarettes/marlboro/marlboro-gold”>Marlboro Gold. Corporations do not change iconic brands lightly. In this case cigarette manufacturer Altria Group (MO) had no choice. The Food & Drug Administration, which as of last year regulates tobacco products, banned the use of the words “mild,” “light,” or “low tar” on packages effective on June 22. The agency says such cigarettes are just as harmful as regular ones.

Before Altria made the switch, it used the old packs to tell smokers that while the look of, the “cigarette stays the same.” That got the FDA’s attention.

The agency argues many consumers will continue to assume Marlboro Golds are safer than regular smokes and has ordered Altria to hand over market research showing why it used the tactic. “What we’re concerned about is that it is potentially perpetuating this untruth that these products are somehow less harmful,” says Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, the agency’s top tobacco regulator. Altria spokesman Bill Phelps says the company will cooperate with the agency.

Pharmaceutical companies frequently skirmish with the FDA, and Big Tobacco is widely expected to do the same. Altria was the only cigarette maker to support FDA oversight, says Phelps, because it wanted consistent rules of the game for the entire tobacco industry.

Still, this is the second time Altria has clashed with federal regulators in recent months. In March it challenged the membership of an FDA tobacco science panel studying the health risks of menthol cigarettes, which account for more than a quarter of U.S. cigarette shipments. If the panel deems that menthol increases the risk for smokers, the FDA could ban such cigarettes.

On Mar. 22, Altria sent the FDA a 16-page letter requesting the removal of four members of the 12-person panel. The company noted that the four had testified in more than 90 legal cases against the tobacco industry and said that as paid expert witnesses they had “grave financial conflicts and intellectual bias.” One of the panelists, Gregory N. Connolly, a tobacco specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health, contends he hasn’t been an expert witness in five years and that his research makes him uniquely qualified for the panel. “I take umbrage at Altria’s challenge,” he says. The three other panelists cited in Altria’s letter did not return calls seeking comment. The FDA rejected Altria’s request to have the four removed.

Some health-care policy experts and officials at anti-tobacco groups say Altria’s challenge to the FDA may be only the first in a series of battles between Big Tobacco and the government. “This is the beginning of a significant series of regulatory actions by the FDA,” says Gregg Haifley, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society. “The industry will fight this hammer and tong. It will be a titanic fight.”

Tobacco czar Deyton says the industry so far has cooperated with the FDA. He adds, however, that if tobacco companies resist new cigarettes rules and policies, “the law gives [the] FDA quite broad and deep authority to enforce all provisions, everything from issuing warning letters to seizures, injunctions, civil money penalties, criminal investigation—the whole thing.”

Disagreements between Altria and the FDA panel in charge of regulating tobacco could erupt into a full-blown battle.

By Greg Miles, Chris Burritt and Molly Peterson
June 24, 2010

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