by Michael L. Marlow
June 30, 2014
A proposed rule to expand Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over a range of tobacco products is unlikely to improve public health. The rule would bring products such as cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, and electronic cigarettes under the guidelines of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, thus imposing a host of new requirements and restrictions on manufacturers and distributors. Aside from failing to quantify the benefits of this new rule, the FDA has ignored the health costs that would be imposed on society by discouraging the use of e-cigarettes – new products which the prevailing literature suggests are less dangerous than conventional tobacco and even help smokers to quit smoking. An optimal policy would focus more on reducing the use of riskier products, rather than treating all products as equal threats to public health.