Wednesday, July 28, 2010
WARNING: FDA Flubs Smokeless Tobacco Warnings
Last month, the FDA appeared to comply with provisions in the Tobacco Act by ordering larger health warnings on smokeless tobacco packages and advertisements; the Act also added a fourth warning. The older three, which have been around for about 25 years, are terribly inaccurate and misleading.
Four warnings are mandated by the legislation, but not the four that the FDA is implementing. Is this a case of sloppy transcription by the agency, or intentional pursuit of the FDA’s own agenda?
Here are the four warnings mandated on page 1,846 of the Tobacco Act (available here):
‘‘WARNING: This product can cause mouth cancer.”
‘‘WARNING: This product can cause gum disease and tooth loss.”
‘‘WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
‘‘WARNING: Smokeless tobacco is addictive.”
Here are the four warnings as they appear on the FDA website and fact sheet (here):
“This product is addictive”
“This product can cause mouth cancer”
“This product can cause gum disease”
“This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes”
The FDA removed the “WARNING” header; removed “and tooth loss” from the second warning; and changed “smokeless tobacco” to “this product” in the addictive warning.
The smokeless tobacco warnings specified by Congress are inaccurate and misleading to begin with. Can an FDA that mismanages the simple transcription of legislative orders be trusted to appropriately implement the law?