FDA To Hold Listening Session April 5th, Rally The Troops!
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will be holding a listening session next month in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego. The event will happen from 6:00 to 8:30pm PST on April 5th.
According to the FDA, they’re looking for presentations on any topic relevant to science-based regulation of tobacco products. They are, however, prioritizing 4 key areas.
- Preventing youth tobacco initiation;
- Encouraging adults who use tobacco to quit;
- Reducing product harms and addictiveness; and
- Developing a science base and continuing meaningful product regulation to reduce the toll of tobacco-related disease, disability, and death.
Although they avoided mentioning electronic cigarettes, it’s likely the devices will be a major topic for the session.
The FDA has yet to formally release or endorse an architecture for electronic cigarette regulation. Despite claiming that it would announce regulatory plans as far back as October, the process appears to be getting held up. The issue is far more complex than they might have initially thought.
With a listening session scheduled in one month, it seems unlikely they will announce regulation before that. The possibility still looms however. If the FDA announces a regulatory framework before that, it could claim that this listening session applies to the comment period for the new rules.
The time of the listening session is certainly suspect as it’s even occurring late for individuals on the west coast and on a Saturday. Individuals on the east coast have to be willing to give up 2 and a half hours on a Saturday night from 9:00 to 11:30 pm. That the session is in tandem with an American Association for Cancer Research — which appears to be against electronic cigarettes — further supports belief that the session might be tailored against e-cigs.
It is possible, however, that the FDA is finding electronic cigarettes more promising, sturdier, or simply far more difficult to legally regulate in the absence of more research and information. Most arguments against the devices are based on may bes, could bes, and possible risks. For example, some argue kids might use them as a gateway to smoking. But almost no teens are found that use electronic cigarettes and then move to smoking. Even those that do seem likely to have started smoking regardless of whether e-cigs were involved. Without actual evidence that any of these claims are viable, the FDA might know that anything they put forward will have trouble sticking.
Still, this is another opportunity to have the story of electronic cigarettes heard. Check back. We’ll be covering the event when the time comes.