The Food and Drug Administration said this morning that it is, effective immediately, banning cigarettes with fruit, candy or clove flavors because they lure adolescents into smoking. "Almost 90% of adult smokers start smoking as teenagers. These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers," said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. Studies have shown that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as those over the age of 25.
In June, President Obama signed into law a bill that would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco, although it cannot ban tobacco or smoking outright. The agency is now considering measures to regulate menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes.
The FDA sent a letter to tobacco companies last week outlining its plans. The letter said that any company that continues to make, ship or sell flavored cigarettes will be subject to FDA enforcement action.
The agency urged parents and others to report continued sales of flavored cigarettes through a special tobacco hotline by phone ( CTP-1373) or on the Internet (www.fda.gov/flavoredtobacco).
-- Thomas H. Maugh II