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ADA, others ask House to oppose tobacco policy riders

September 07, 2016

Washington — The ADA, with 52 other organizations, urged House Appropriations Committee leaders to oppose two tobacco policy riders in a continuing resolution to maintain federal operations.

“As you consider the continuing resolution, we urge you to reject any effort to include policy riders that would weaken the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate tobacco products,” wrote the coalition in a Sept. 7 letter to House Appropriations Chair Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.; and Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Chair Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Ranking Member Sam Farr, D-Calif.  

Noting that it was “grateful” the Senate bill did not contain any tobacco-related riders, the coalition asked the House to exclude two riders it “strongly” opposes in the continuing resolution.

The first rider would exempt “large and premium cigars” from FDA oversight and the second would change the so-called “grandfather date” in order to exempt e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products now on the market from the FDA’s final rule on product review requirement that was issued in May.

The coalition urged Congress “not step in now to provide special protections for tobacco companies” and reminded the committee that the final rule enables FDA, “for the first time, to oversee the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of these products, providing the agency with new tools to address the problem of three million middle and high school students using e-cigarettes and 1.4 million using cigars.”

The coalition noted that when issuing its final rule FDA specifically examined whether premium cigars should be excluded from FDA oversight and concluded, “there was no appropriate public health justification for doing so” after FDA’s own scientific review found that “all cigars pose serious negative health risks” and “are potentially addictive.”

The coalition also expressed concern that the first House rider defines “large and premium cigars” so broadly that it “creates a loophole that invites tobacco companies to modify their products to qualify for this exemption – a loophole that tobacco companies will surely exploit to exempt some cheap, machine-made, flavored cigars that appeal to youth.”

The second House rider would change the so-called “grandfather date” in order to exempt e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products now on the market from the FDA’s new final rule.

“Changing this date would significantly weaken FDA’s ability to take prompt action to protect children from thousands of fruit- and candy-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars, including products in flavors such as cotton candy, gummy bear and fruit punch that clearly appeal to kids.

“We urge you to allow FDA’s final rule on e-cigarettes and cigars to continue to be implemented and reject any effort to include the House tobacco policy riders in the CR,” concluded the letter.

For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts on tobacco visit ADA.org/tobacco.