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ADA supports new FDA tobacco control efforts

Washington—The Association urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to launch new tobacco control authority "by regulating industry claims that smokeless tobacco is a healthier or less harmful alternative to cigarette smoking."

The FDA, moving to assert regulatory controls authorized by the ADA-supported Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act (ADA News Today June 22, FDA granted authority to regulate tobacco), invited public and professional guidance.

The ADA's Oct. 9 comments will be posted at www.ada.org with other Association tobacco policy and resources. The comments also are posted on the FDA Public Docket.

"As you proceed with your efforts to regulate tobacco products, we urge you to consider how the public and the FDA can benefit from the dental community's expertise and long-standing commitment to preventing tobacco use and treating tobacco use and dependence," Association officials said.

"We encourage you to leverage that expertise by including a dentist on any tobacco-related advisory committees or work groups, particularly the recently formed Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee." In separate correspondence, the Association offered two nominees for the FDA advisory panel.

"We also ask that you begin your work by regulating industry assertions that smokeless tobacco is a healthier (or less harmful) alternative to cigarette smoking," said the ADA letter. The letter was co-signed by Dr. Ronald L. Tankersley in his first regulatory action as the ADA's 146th president and Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, ADA executive director. Dr. Tankersley took office Oct. 6 at the ADA annual session in Honolulu.

Smokeless tobacco is not a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking, the ADA officers declared. Both products pose health risks, they said. "As a matter of public health, we have become increasingly alarmed by recent attempts to market smokeless tobacco as a healthier (or less harmful) alternative to cigarettes."