WASHINGTON, Sept 19 The U.S. government plans to
spend as much as $273 million over the next five years on
tobacco-related research in a bid to help reduce the number of
deaths from smoking.
The Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of
Health said on Thursday they have awarded an initial $53 million
to 14 institutions to conduct research that could help the FDA
shape tobacco product regulations.
In 2009 the agency was given authority to regulate
cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, though
not pipe tobacco, cigars or e-cigarettes.
The law allows the FDA to expand its authority to all
tobacco products but it must first issue new regulations. Those
are in development and no date has been announced for their
On Thursday the American Academy of Pediatrics and 14 other
public health organizations, including the American Lung
Association and American Heart Association, sent a letter to
President Barack Obama urging him to pressure the FDA to issue
the new rules.
"More than two years ago, FDA announced its intent to take
this action, yet no progress has been made," the letter said.
"This delay is having very real public health consequences."
In July the FDA said it may place restrictions on menthol
cigarettes following a scientific review that showed the
products are likely to be more addictive than regular
cigarettes. The agency is seeking public comment on whether a
limit could be set on the amount of menthol in cigarettes.
The public health organizations, in their letter, note that
while cigarette use fell 33 percent between 2000 and 2011,
e-cigarette use is rising, as is the use of cigars by young
people. And while the FDA has the authority to stop the use of
candy and fruit-flavors in cigarettes, it cannot stop their use
in cigars or e-cigarettes.
"According to national surveys, 17.8 percent of high school
boys currently smoke cigars," the letter said, "and each day
more than 3,000 kids under 18 years old try cigar smoking for
the first time."