When will the FDA stand on Big Tobacco?

Many supporters of the food mistakenly believe that we just need to follow in the footsteps of movement for tobacco control, and then we will win. It is true; of course impressive progress has been made in reducing smoking rates in the United States. And the global tobacco treaty of the World Health Organization has a huge potential to save lives around the world. However, the public health crisis caused by tobacco remains quite serious.

imagesSmoking is still the leading cause of preventable deaths, with more than 440,000 Americans die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases each year. And yet millions are dying on a global scale as the tobacco companies go to foreign markets. You might also think that the debate about having the tobacco industry is involved in public health decision-making would be a thing of the past, but not so. In 2009, after decades of failed attempts, finally, Congress passed a law giving powers of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. Of course, this does not completely solve the problem. Then came the struggle for the composition of key organ FDA: Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.

Back in 2009, when Congress completes its legislation gives the FDA new authority; Corporate Accountability International is strongly recommended. But Congress was not listening. Instead of three representatives of the tobacco industry have been appointed, but without the right to vote. But even that was not good enough for an industry that gives the word “chutzpah” a whole new meaning. The lawsuit industry giants Lorillard and RJ Reynolds are now. This, according to CBS News “, says financial conflicts of interest and bias of some members of the tobacco of the Scientific Advisory Committee and asks the court to stop the federal agencies rely on the recommendations of the Group.”

Yes, you read that right: the industry claiming a conflict of interest. This is an industry that has created a front group called Tobacco Institute, whose mission was to block, misdirect, and delay of scientific research related to the deadly consequences of smoking. Tobacco Institute was disbanded only because of public protests and lawsuits brought by several state attorneys general at the end of 1990. This is the tobacco industry is now whining federal court that its interests are not served by the Scientific Advisory Board, whose mission is to save a few of the 400,000 deaths that occur each year from their own products in the industry.

Much is at stake. One of the most contentious issues on the plate is the FDA’s menthol-flavored cigarettes. For decades, experts in the field of health, tobacco control, and others argued that the tobacco industry intentionally added menthol to mask the harsh taste of cigarettes.. At least one research study concluded that “menthol is a characteristic feature of the design used by cigarette manufacturers to attract and retain new, young smokers.” And African-American smokers are four times more likely to choose menthol cigarettes, White smokers. The most popular flavor of menthol brand Newport, which is owned by Lorillard, a company that also happens to have one of the three coveted places the industry on FDA’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

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