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Tobacco Reporter‘s June 2016 edition: Crackdown

CTP Director Mitch Zeller explaining the final rule during TMA's annual meeting in Williamsburg

CTP Director Mitch Zeller explaining the final rule during TMA’s annual meeting in Williamsburg

Disappointed but not surprised” was probably the most common response to the final rule extending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s authority to previously unregulated tobacco products. Representatives of the tobacco and vapor industries knew it was coming, but when the announcement was made on May 5, it still hit hard.

Perhaps against their better judgment, some had hoped the agency would abandon its February 2007 predicate date for new-product applications and exempt premium cigars. Alas, during a conference call, FDA Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitch Zeller insisted the grandfather date was in the interest of public health. What’s more, he added, the agency had been unable to find a scientific justification to exclude premium cigars.

The industry, along with some in public health, strongly disagrees. The deeming rules have already been nicknamed “the cigarette promotion regulations of 2016” because they subject vapor products to much harsher restrictions than their more dangerous combustible counterparts.

Legal challenges have been filed and an amendment to change the 2007 predicate date is working its way through the legislature. The outcome of those moves is far from certain, however, and if they fail, the industry had better prepare for a far more challenging operating environment.

Of course, the U.S. is not the only jurisdiction getting tough on tobacco. The revised EU Tobacco Products Directive went into effect May 20, and the U.K. High Court recently gave the green light to plain packaging. And then there is the seventh Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties (COP7), scheduled for this fall in New Delhi.

COP7 features prominently not only in our June issue but also at this year’s Global Tobacco & Nicotine Forum (GTNF), which takes place Sept. 27–29 in Brussels.

The contrast between COP, which has repeatedly banned members of the public from observing its procedures, and the GTNF, which has been inviting ever more outsiders, could not be more striking—and it is about to get bigger. Further demonstrating its commitment to transparency, the GTNF this year will drop the Chatham House Rule that governed previous conferences. The idea is that, unlike COP, today’s tobacco industry is unafraid of engagement and transparency; it has nothing to hide.

GTNF preparations are in full swing, and updates will be made available at www.gtnf-2016.com. The organizers are confident that the Brussels gathering will be even more exciting than previous iterations of the event. The program, they acknowledge, may contain some surprises, but contrary to the FDA’s final rule, it will not disappoint.

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