“The FDA’s extended comment period on how to regulate electronic cigarettes ended this week. But there's still no time table for issuing final guidelines... The concern among many physicians is that the battery-powered devices are delivering not just nicotine vapor, but other chemicals as well, including flavors that might attract younger smokers. The regulations proposed back in April would ban sale of e-cigs to anyone under 18 and would add warning labels and would require new devices to be approved before they could be sold. Dr. Michael Fiore is the founding director of University of Wisconsin’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention," says host Barbara Lewis.
On the FDA and e-cigarettes
“The bottom line is we don’t have a lot of science to guide people that has not been submitted to the FDA for the FDA’s consideration of them as a smoking treatment. And the FDA, for any drug, says you have to prove it’s safe and effective. I would say to the companies making e-cigarettes: submit your products to the FDA; get them tested; show the public that they are a safe and effective treatment. And if that were the case, then I’d be all for them."
On how to further reduce tobacco use
"What we know is that it needs to be a 3-legged stool to further reduce tobacco use. And in my view, the possibility of eliminating cigarettes from our society is within our grasp. I would say there are three things: We have to protect kids from ever starting. We made progress from kid initiation rates falling, but still too many children become addicted from tobacco. One of the ways to do that is to raise the age of which an individual can buy tobacco from 18 to 21. Second is making smoking cessation treatments readily available to anyone who wants them. And then the third leg of this 3-legged stool is policy. If we make every indoor environment smoke-free that’s going to discourage smoking. People are very sensitive to price. If we were to for example, a federal committee recommended a few years ago, raise the price of cigarettes by $2 per pack. And dedicate $1 of every $2 that’s raised to help people to quit. And finally, we need to spend a lot of time reaching out to underserved individuals of our society, individuals who are struggling with so many other challenges like mental illness. We really don’t know if they need more intensive treatments; if they need different treatments. We have plenty of treatments we can try now. But we need to do a much better job of reaching out.”
The first portion of this interview aired on Feb. 16, 2014.