alec stone
Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Tobacco products are under more scrutiny than ever before. With the rise in youth vaping, the advent of flavored e-cigarettes, and the production of other nicotine delivery systems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tightened its review process for new products. The agency is looking to the smoking cessation community, taking insight from the Trump administration, and weighing feedback from other elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives for ways to protect public health. That said, companies are using technology to create new tobacco-based products, and FDA must find ways to assess harm while balancing free market interests.

In October 2019, the agency announced the authorization of eight modified-risk tobacco product pathways for smokeless tobacco items. According to FDA, smokeless products have fewer disease risks than traditional tobacco products. In a release, the agency said that reviewed the scientific evidence and made the authorization to protect underage access and exposure to smoking.

Reiterating the health dangers from tobacco, FDA added that “today’s action demonstrates the viability of the pathway for companies to market specific tobacco products as less harmful to consumers, but only following a thorough scientific evaluation by FDA. Our team of scientific experts examined these applications to ensure that the tobacco products meet the public health standards in the law.”

When e-cigarettes and vaping products were first introduced, their marketing strategies cited reduced risk of disease. However, after a recent wave of lung disease associated with a vitamin E acetate chemical found in some vaping products, more than 2,172 patients have reported respiratory issues from vaping in 49 states and two U.S. territories.

ONS is an active participant in the smoking cessation advocacy community and continues to meet with elected officials to highlight the potential risks of vaping and tobacco products. Oncology nurses are key to sharing patient experiences and educating policymakers about the important aspects of public health. ONS’s advocacy efforts are just one of the ways the Society supports its members to effect change at the local, state, and national level.