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New FDA regulation of tobacco products has problems

Press release from PLoS Medicine


New US legislation granting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jurisdiction over tobacco products represents a serious compromise on the part of tobacco control advocates, argues a new essay in this week's open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Stanton Glantz and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco say that the new policy is another example of legislative compromise with the tobacco industry that can lead to short-term public health gains at the expense of long-term progress. The new policy repeals federal pre-emption of state and local regulation of tobacco advertising, which is a positive move, but it also allows the tobacco industry an opportunity to rehabilitate its image and products because they are now "FDA regulated," say the authors. That tobacco interests are represented on the Scientific Advisory Committee that plays a central role in the development of FDA regulations--violating the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control-- will make it difficult to develop and implement effective regulation in the United States and beyond, say the authors.

The challenge moving forward, say the authors, will be for the compromise law's advocates "to accept responsibility for these problems and to see that their negative consequences do not materialize."


Funding: This paper was not prepared as part of any extramurally funded project.

Competing Interests: The authors do not consider these competing interests, but in the interest of full transparency declare the following: Dr. Glantz holds two research grants related to tobacco from the National Cancer Institute, an endowed chair as American Legacy Distinguished Professor in Tobacco Control, and a grant from the Robert Wood Johns Foundation to assist Ms. Eubanks, who led the US Department of Justice in its successful RICO case against the tobacco industry (United States v. Philip Morris USA, et al.) in writing a book about the case. Dr. Glantz also administers an endowment from the American Legacy Foundation, which supports the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, which Dr. Glantz directs, and the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. He also has the William Cahan Endowment provided by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute. Mr. Barnes is an attorney in Dr. Glantz' research group, who is supported in part by Dr. Glantz' National Cancer Institute grants. Ms. Eubanks retired from the Department of Justice on December 1, 2005 and is now a lawyer in private practice in Washington, D. C. None of these organizations played any role in the preparation of this paper or the decision to submit it for publication.

Citation: Glantz SA, Barnes R, Eubanks SY (2009) Compromise or Capitulation? US Food and Drug Administration Jurisdiction Over Tobacco Products. PLoS Med 6(7): e1000118. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000118



Richard L. Barnes, JD
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
University of California, San Francisco
530 Parnassus Ave, Suite 366
San Francisco, CA 94143-1390
Tel: (415) 476-2265
Fax: (415) 514-9345

About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit

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