DES MOINES, Iowa – With government entities generally idle or taking an opposing position on the topic of tobacco, the Iowa attorney general’s recently released statements supporting the use of flavors in noncombustible tobacco alternatives such as electronic cigarettes may surprise many retailers.
Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller, in his filing with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), submitted during the agency’s Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking (ANPRM) period in mid-July, said the “challenges” of making rules around flavors with noncombustibles are “greater than for combustibles.”
“This is because it is impossible to rule out significant harm-reduction benefits from use of noncombustible nicotine products by both adults and youth as alternatives to smoking,” he said.
Basing his position on multiple research studies, Miller in essence prioritizes the benefits of people either switching to or using noncombustible tobacco products instead of traditional cigarettes.
“If flavors increase the appeal of harm-reduction transitions and pathways, then intervening to reduce flavor-related appeal may cause harm,” he said. “We do not believe that, at this point, the FDA can reliably distinguish between harms and benefits that arise from flavors in noncombustible nicotine products, or provide assurance that its interventions would not cause more harm than good. This applies to both adult and youth populations.”
Miller also brought up the issue of unintended consequences and the growth of illicit trade. “Without the availability of appealing, legally available, noncombustible products like e-cigarettes, there is a danger that consumers will seek the nicotine products they want in the black or gray market or start making their own,” he said.