FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) targeted by amendments in the House

Two potentially damaging amendments that had the potential to effect FDA authority over tobacco were thwarted last month

Two potentially damaging amendments that had the potential to effect FDA authority over tobacco were thwarted last month. The first was an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) that, among other things, would have prevented FDA from banning ingredients in tobacco products unless “…it could demonstrate that a product containing such substance or compound is more harmful to users than a product that does not contain such substance or compound….” Although Rep. Rehberg indicated the amendment was directed toward the regulation of additives like antibiotics to animal feed, the language also would have affected FDA’s ability to regulate additives like menthol to cigarettes. As reported in the March issue of SPIN, FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) released a report suggesting that although menthol is not toxic on its own, its addition to tobacco products increases the likelihood of experimentation and initiation of smoking as well as increased likelihood of addiction and decreased likelihood of cessation (particularly in African American smokers). 

Although the Rehberg amendment passed the Appropriations Committee that funds FDA, APA joined in an effort (PDF, 311KB) led by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) to have the language removed before the bill was sent for a vote by the full House of Representatives. Fortunately, through some back channel negotiations Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) successfully negotiated (PDF, 24KB) removal of the amendment before the bill came up for a final vote. A second amendment by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) proposed cutting $392 million from the CTP’s budget, but fortunately that amendment was solidly defeated and APA again joined CTFK in thanking (PDF, 131KB) those Representatives who voted against the amendment and in registering concern (PDF, 120KB) with those who voted for it. The activity in the House has done nothing to slow the pace of the TPSAC, which met again late last week to consider additional input on the Menthol Committee Report (PDF, 5.31MB) and to begin considering issues surrounding dissolvable tobacco products. APA Fellow Dr. Robert Balster, a member of APA’s Board of Scientific Affairs, was added as a temporary Committee member for the recent TPSAC meeting.