TMA Backs Proposed FDA Bans on Flavoring in Cigars, Cigarettes
By Sean Price

 Tobacco_Under_21

The Texas Medical Association recently gave enthusiastic approval to proposed federal rules designed to crack down on flavored tobacco products, a move Texas physicians say is long overdue.

The pair of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations would eliminate all flavoring in cigars and menthol flavoring in cigarettes.

“TMA fully agrees with the FDA that such flavors increase appeal and make the cigars easier to use, particularly among youth and young adults,” TMA President Gary Floyd, MD, wrote in a letter supporting the regulation affecting cigars. “As such, we strongly support the proposed rule.”

Dr. Floyd reiterated that stance in a separate letter on the dangers of menthol cigarettes.

Tobacco companies recruit new nicotine addicts by aiming their products at teenagers, and several scientific studies have shown that flavors increase teen tobacco use, says Pasadena pediatrician Lindy Upton McGee, MD, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Teenagers start because of the flavors, and they continue because of the nicotine addiction,” she said.

FDA banned the use of all flavoring except menthol in cigarettes in 2009, and the move to get rid of menthol is overdue, says Dr. McGee. She has testified on behalf of TMA on tobacco legislation and works on that topic with the Texas Pediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“The whole thing with menthol in tobacco products is to create a cooling effect so there’s less harshness felt in the throat and coughing is suppressed,” she said. “Basically, the point is making tobacco products a more pleasant experience. … You want teenagers to feel the harshness in their throat and to remind them that they’re breathing in dangerous chemicals, and you want them to cough when they first try cigarettes so that they know it’s affecting their lungs.”

FDA’s proposed rules are the latest in a series of actions designed to curtail products that create nicotine addiction, including a recent order for electronic cigarette-maker Juul Labs Inc. to stop selling or distributing products. (Earlier this month, following a court decision blocking the FDA order, FDA announced it was suspending that order pending further review.) The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged FDA to go further and remove all flavored e-cigarette products from the market, including menthol.

The Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) – which includes TMA and dozens of other organizations – has called for state policymakers to enact a range of reforms designed to discourage the use of nicotine products. For instance, TPHC advocacy helped lead the 2021 Texas Legislature to tighten regulations on vaping products.

Texas received an “F” grade on the American Lung Association's 2022 report card in the category of providing smoke-free air. It also received F’s for tobacco prevention and cessation funding, tobacco taxes, access to cessation services, and access to flavored tobacco products.

Last Updated On

July 22, 2022

Originally Published On

July 22, 2022

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Sean Price

Reporter

(512) 370-1392

Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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