FDA Should Regulate Cigarettes
NEW YORK -- As a strong critic of the tobacco industry, Sen.
Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) set forth in these pages ("Big Tobacco still
blowing smoke," Nov. 21) several proposals to regulate cigarettes,
including having Congress grant the Food and Drug Administration
the authority to regulate tobacco products. We agree wholeheartedly
with many of the points he raised, and as the industry leader, we
strongly support passage of legislation that would give the FDA
authority to regulate cigarettes.
As Sen. Durbin stated, cigarettes are unique. As a result, they
should be regulated as cigarettes, not like a food or, as the FDA
proposed in 1996, as a medical device. But we do believe there
is a need to create a regulatory regime that, while respecting the
decisions of adults who may continue to choose to smoke,
provides for additional information to smokers, government
oversight of cigarette manufacturing and standards for the design,
introduction and responsible marketing of reduced-risk cigarettes.
Philip Morris supports FDA regulation of cigarettes because it
can bring greater stability and consistency to tobacco policy and
predictability to our business. Although the 1998 settlement
agreements with the states made significant progress in areas
such as youth smoking prevention, there are areas that we and
the public health community agree need to be addressed through
additional federal regulation.
For example, we support Congress authorizing the FDA to revise
existing warning labels or add new ones on cigarette packs and
advertisements. We support a national minimum age of 18 for the
purchase of tobacco products, and we agree with Sen. Durbin that
cigarettes should not be sold unpacked, as single cigarettes. We
believe that cigarettes should be sold in a face-to-face transaction,
where age can be verified and access laws can be monitored and
We support giving the FDA authority to establish a national standard
for cigarette ingredient disclosure, and to develop uniform testing
standards for yields of tar, nicotine and other smoke constituents.
We also support FDA authority to test cigarette ingredients to
determine whether they increase the inherent health risks or
addictiveness of smoking.
Significantly, we see FDA regulation as the best way to establish
appropriate standards for determining what is a "reduced-risk"
cigarette. This would include setting guidelines for any claims that
could be made by manufacturers, including the type and manner
of communication that should be provided to consumers. It should
be the FDA, not a tobacco company, that determines what is, in
fact, "reduced risk" and what communications are appropriate.
We at Philip Morris have been making our support for FDA
regulation known for most of the past year. We want to work with
others, including our critics, to make FDA regulation of cigarettes
by Steven C. Parrish