FDA Committee Sets Sights on Dissolvable Tobacco, Menthol

CSP Daily News

ROCKVILLE, Md. — July 21 and 22 are dates tobacco manufacturers and convenience retailers may want to circle on their calendars. The Food and Drug Administration’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) has placed both smokeless tobacco and menthol on the agenda for its two-day meeting then.

TPSAC will tackle the nature and impact of the use of dissolvable tobacco products on the public’s health during the afternoon of July 21 and continuing on July 22. These discussions are the first step in the advisory committee’s required report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding the issue, including such use among children. The final report should take several points into consideration: the risks and benefits to the population as a whole including users and nonusers of tobacco products; the increased or decreased likelihood that existing users of tobacco products will stop using such products; and the increased or decreased likelihood that those who do not use tobacco products will start using such products.

Dissolvable tobacco products will take center stage on the same day the advisory committee is slated to take up revisions to its menthol report. On the morning of July 21, committee members will consider and deliberate the proposed changes and possibly adopt them as amendments to the TPSAC Menthol Report. Redacted versions of the document, reflecting the changes to the report proposed by the committee members, will be available on the FDA Website by June 22, according to a TPSAC meeting announcement.

The original TPSAC Menthol Report concluded that the “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States.” The finding is nonbinding and it’s currently under review by the FDA.

The proposed changes, however, are not expected to be substantial. According to Bonnie Herzog, managing director of beverage, tobacco and consumer research at Wells Fargo Securities, the company confirmed with its Washington, D.C. lobbyists that the proposed changes are based on editorial differences, “and therefore the risk of something substantial and/or negative would be removed.”

The nature of the proposed changes was good news for Lorillard, which as the manufacturer of Newport cigarettes, holds a large percentage of the menthol cigarette market. Lorillard stock closed Tuesday afternoon at $113.59 and was hovering in the $110 range by mid-morning today. In the past 52 weeks, the company’s stock has hit a high of $116.90 and a low of $70.87, according to its website.

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