On Aug. 18, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued an order further postponing the effective date of the FDA’s graphic cigarette health warning rule by another 90 days from July 13, 2022, to Oct. 11, 2022.
In addition, the order also states that “any other obligation to comply with a deadline tied to the effective date of the rule” is also postponed for an additional 90 days.
Based on this additional language in the order, the FDA should be issuing a guidance announcement also postponing for another 90 days the preferred filing deadline for manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to submit cigarette health warning rotational plans to the agency.
Each manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer that creates its own cigarette advertisements is required to file a plan with the FDA which sets forth the schedule for rotating the 11 graphic cigarette health warnings on cigarette advertisements. The agency had strongly encouraged industry members to submit their cigarette health warning rotational plans by Sept. 13, 2021, to allow sufficient time for the plans to be reviewed and considered for approval. Now, that preferred filing deadline for cigarette health warning rotational plans should be Dec. 13, 2021.
Studies: Flavor Bans Increase Youth Smoking
According to a growing number of studies, the banning of all flavored tobacco products can result in increasing the number of young adults and underage youth that return to smoking.
The first study was published in June 2020 in “Science Direct-Addictive Behavior Reports” regarding the city of San Francisco’s flavored tobacco ban ordinance. This study found that after the ban was in force for nearly a year, flavored tobacco product use was reduced, but cigarette smoking among 18-24-year-olds increased by over 35%. The study also found that most consumers of flavored tobacco find other sources for these products.
The second study was published in May 2021 in “JAMA Pediatrics” on San Francisco’s flavored tobacco ban ordinance and compared youth smoking rates among high school students in the San Francisco School District to the smoking rates of high school students in seven other metropolitan school districts located in cities that did not have a flavored tobacco ban.
That study concluded:
San Francisco’s ban on flavored tobacco product sales was associated with increased smoking among underage high school students relative to other school districts. While the policy applied to all tobacco products, its outcome was likely greater for youths who vaped than those who smoked due to higher rates of flavored tobacco use among those who vaped. This raises concerns that reducing access to flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems may motivate youths who would otherwise vape to substitute smoking.
According to the study, the smoking rate for San Francisco high school students under the age of 18 increased from 4.7% in 2017 before the adoption of the city’s ordinance to 6.2% in 2019, the year after the ordinance was enacted. This is a 32% increase in underage youth cigarette smoking rates in the San Francisco school district. At the same time, the underage smoking rates in the other metropolitan school districts that are located in cities which did not have a flavored tobacco product sales ban continued to decline and averaged 2.8% as of 2019.
A third study was published July 31, 2021, in “Nicotine & Tobacco Research” and found similar implications of flavored vapor bans on young adult tobacco users. The study abstract included the following findings:
Moreover, if vape product sales were restricted to tobacco flavors, 39.1% of users reported being likely to continue using e-cigarettes but 33.2% were likely to switch to cigarettes. If vape product sales were entirely restricted, e-cigarette users were equally likely to switch to cigarettes versus not (~40%). Those most likely to report positive impact of such policies being implemented were less frequent users, never-smokers and those with greater e-cigarette-related health concerns. This research should be considered in future tobacco control initiatives.
State Legislative Bill Actions
In North Carolina, Senate Bill 105 (Budget Appropriations Bill), which was substituted in a House committee to include language to subject remote sales of cigars to the current excise tax (12.8% of the cost-price per cigar), failed to receive concurrence in the Senate on Aug. 17, 2021.