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FDA granted authority to regulate tobacco

Washington—The U.S. and American Dental Association presidents praised historic legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration new authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products.

The Association has long-standing policy that cigarettes and other tobacco products are nicotine delivery devices that should be regulated by the FDA (see related article).

"Dentists are the first line of defense in the war against oral cancer and many other tobacco-related diseases," ADA President Dr. John S. Findley said as Congress sent the bill to the White House. "The American Dental Association heartily commends Congress for passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act."

President Obama signed the legislation into law June 22, thanking bipartisan members of Congress "and all the health advocates that fought so long for this to happen." Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, ADA executive director, was among invited guests for the bill signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.

"The passing of this bill speaks to the power of broad-based support from very different and unique advocacy organizations coming together from different places and perspectives yet united by a common urgent public health issue," said Dr. O'Loughlin. "The ADA has led many initiatives to combat the negative oral health impact of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Today was a victory for all who care about the public's health."

Public health officials invited public participation toward science-based implementation of the tobacco control law. "HHS and its agencies are committed to working together to bring a creative, science-based approach to reduce the hazards of smoking and other tobacco use," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"FDA looks forward to taking on this challenge and in doing so will partner with public health leaders at our sister agencies, at the state level and in localities all around the country," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. "FDA will seek input from the public as we begin working to implement the Act."