The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have asked for increased funding for the fiscal year 2025, to address tobacco use, especially among youth. The CDC is asking for $265 million to go towards its existing tobacco control programs, while the FDA is requesting a raise in user fees to cover for inflation, as well as an extension on the product categories requiring user fees, to include e-cigarettes.

THR experts are outraged by these requests. In an article on the Federalist, Lindsey Stroud argued against granting these agencies more funds, citing their failure to properly regulate tobacco harm-reduction products, while perpetuating misinformation about nicotine and tobacco products. She highlighted that both agencies have held back from informing the public about reduced-risk tobacco products and regulating the adult marketplace.

More funding to what end?

Stroud accused the CDC of running a misinformation campaign against vaping products under the pretext of protecting children. While interestingly, youth vaping increased dramatically after the U.S. surgeon general declared a vaping epidemic in 2018, it has since declined significantly. Despite this decline, both agencies remain focused on teen vaping with their budget requests prioritizing the reduction of youth tobacco use, instead of the use of novel nicotine products among adults using them as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

Similarly, the FDA’s anti-vaping campaign which started in 2018, has been criticized for spreading exaggerated falsehoods about the alleged harms of vaping. In fact, serious claims made by the agency, such as exposure to diacetyl and formaldehyde, have been consistently debunked by peer reviewed scientific studies.

The FDA’s latest lawsuit

Interestingly, Stroud also criticized proposals like the federal ban on menthol cigarettes, which may not significantly reduce demand but increase enforcement costs. In contrast, earlier this month, a coalition comprising civil rights and medical organizations announced that they are suing the FDA, for failing to meet its own deadline to set the ban on menthols.

Dr. Yolanda Lawson, president of the National Medical Association, emphasized the prioritization of profits over public health and urged placing people’s welfare first during a news conference. The other plaintiffs include the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council and Action on Smoking and Health.

While research has shown that menthol flavouring in cigarettes masks the harshness of tobacco with its cooling sensation, making smoking easier, studies have shown that menthol bans will not necessarily decrease smoking rates.
Carol McGruder, a founding member of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, argued that the delay allows the tobacco industry to continue addicting more individuals to menthols each year. While Kelsey Romeo-Stuppy, managing attorney for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), criticized the delay as unjustifiable from scientific and legal standpoints, suggesting political motivations behind it.

The FDA’s consideration of a menthol ban dates back more than a decade, with a proposed product standard announced in April 2022, aimed at reducing disease and death while curbing youth experimentation with tobacco. Yet, despite the FDA’s belief in the ban’s potential benefits, menthol cigarettes continue to be sold.

The lawsuit underscores the urgent need for regulatory action, as the ban could save lives and reduce healthcare costs over time. Particularly, it would benefit marginalized communities, including Black and LGBTQ+ populations, who have historically been targeted by menthol marketing campaigns. Black smokers, in particular, face disproportionately higher rates of smoking-related illnesses, exacerbating health disparities.

Furthermore, the lawsuit points out the critical role of menthol cigarettes in perpetuating smoking among youth, with more than half of underage smokers reportedly using menthol products. However, while research has shown that menthol flavouring in cigarettes masks the harshness of tobacco with its cooling sensation, making smoking easier, studies have shown that menthol bans will not necessarily decrease smoking rates.

This is not the first time the FDA has failed to meet a self imposed deadline

Meanwhile with widespread support for the ban from public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association, the lawsuit seeks to compel the FDA to fulfil its mandate to protect public health by implementing the menthol ban without further delay.

This is not the first time that the FDA has been sued for failing to meet its own deadline. When in 2018, the infamous PreMarket Tobacco Applications (PMTA) submission deadline was moved to 2022, a number of groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Truth Initiative, sued the FDA for exposing consumers to “lethal and addictive components” in tobacco products.

The American Lung Association Pressures the FDA to Misinform The Public About Vaping


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