August 29, 2009
Lawrence Deyton, MD
FDA Center for Tobacco Products
Re: Dont Write Off Current Smokers
Dear Dr. Deyton:
For the past half century, the American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) has served as the national voice of physician directors of state and local health departments and other like-minded physicians. We have long been involved with tobacco control, with the singular goal of doing everything in our power to reduce tobacco related illness and death.
As you assume leadership of the new FDA Center for Tobacco Products, we urge you to consider the actions FDA can take, within the powers granted by this new legislation, to rapidly and substantially reduce tobacco related illness and death in current adult smokers.
Unfortunately, FDA has not gotten off to a good start. FDA condemnation of electronic cigarettes, in its July 22 press conference, and FDA insistence that electronic cigarettes should be regulated as a drug/device combination rather than as a tobacco product makes no sense from a public health perspective. It flies in the face of FDA laboratory findings on other products already approved by FDA. If one looks at electronic cigarettes as a sentinel for all tobacco products less hazardous than conventional cigarettes the outlook for FDA action reducing tobacco-related illness and death among current adult smokers is dismal.
With this in mind, we respectfully request your consideration of the following actions:
1. We urge FDA to make public the laboratory data behind the July 22 condemnation of electronic cigarettes, along with comparable data on pharmaceutical nicotine products and conventional cigarettes. Then, on the basis of these data, either fully justify or retract the July 22 condemnation of electronic cigarettes.
2. We urge FDA to reclassify electronic cigarettes from a drug/device combination to a tobacco product. This will enable FDA to immediately regulate manufacturing and impose marketing restrictions during this initial period of FDA Tobacco Center development. This reclassification will eliminate pressure on the several hundred thousand current American users of electronic cigarettes to switch back to the much more hazardous conventional cigarettes.
This year, about 400,000 American adult cigarette smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness. Their second hand smoke will kill about 48,000 non-smokers. About 700 more will die in residential fires. Despite progress on other measures of tobacco use, per CDC estimates, this death count continues to inch up from year to year. In contrast, even though smokeless tobacco products represent about 20% of nicotine intake in the United States, the number of deaths per year from these products is too small for reliable estimates from the CDC.You can read the entire statement here.