FDA Orders Cigarette Makers To Reveal Ingredients

Each year, <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">cigarettes result in about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs in the United States. A prior Associated Press (AP) report noted that over 126 million nonsmokers in this country are exposed to tobacco smoke on an ongoing basis and, in 2006, the Surgeon General announced that “overwhelming scientific evidence” was associated with tens of thousands of fatalities from cardiac disease, lung cancer, and other deadly diseases due to second- and third-hand smoke.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is ordering cigarette makers to reveal what they put in their products, the AP just reported. Effective in June, and for the first time, cigarette companies must advise the agency of cigarette formulas, said the AP, noting that this is similar to what drug makers have been doing for years. Cigarette makers must also provide the FDA with any studies the firms have conducted on the ingredients used in the manufacture of cigarettes, said the AP.

Manufacturers have admitted to using ingredients such as cocoa, coffee, and menthol, to name a few, said the AP, to improve the taste of cigarettes; however, other ingredients, which have not been disclosed, could make cigarettes more dangerous, even more addictive, said the AP.

The agency feels the new disclosures will better enable it to create standards for such products and also ensure the banning of some ingredients or ingredient combinations, explained the AP. “Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don’t know what’s in them,” Lawrence R. Deyton, a physician and the director of the FDA’s new Center for Tobacco Products told the AP.

Trade-secret laws will remain in place and the FDA will keep such information confidential under these laws, but will release a listing of any harmful or possibly harmful ingredients by June 2010, with—in compliance with the law—an indication of the quantity and brands involved, said the AP.

Some tobacco companies voluntarily list product ingredients in general terms; however, the new mandates require more details and “specificity,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. For instance, manufactures indicate that tobacco products contain, said the AP: “Tobacco, water, sugar, and flavorings, along with chemicals like diammonium phosphate.” That chemical is added to enhance taste and the product’s burn rate, explained the AP. Ammonium hydroxide, used as a taste enhancer in cigarettes, is also often added, said the AP. Both chemicals could, according to research, also enable the human body to more readily absorb nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, added the AP.

“Until now, the tobacco companies were free to manipulate their product in ways to maximize sales, no matter the impact on the number of people who died or became addicted,” Myers said. “The manner of disclosure previously made it impossible for the government to make any meaningful assessments,” quoted the AP.

Of note, according to the AP, cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain over 4,000 chemicals with over 60 of those chemicals known to cause cancer, citing the American Cancer Society.

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