Causing harm in the name of safety: Political opposition to non-combustible tobacco products

In January a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel, the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), voted 8-1 that the weight of scientific evidence shows that switching from cigarettes to an innovative, non-combustible tobacco product such as Philip Morris International’s (PMI’s) IQOS system significantly reduces a user’s exposure to harmful or potentially harmful chemicals. This finding should encourage the FDA to allow manufacturers to market smoke-free products as safer alternatives to cigarettes. But, perhaps predictably, the panel’s vote has incited a regulatory furor among certain politicians. Last month, several United States senators, including Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin, and Elizabeth Warren, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb urging the agency to avoid rushing through new products, such as IQOS, … without requiring strong evidence that any such product will reduce the risk of disease, result in a…

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