Also These May Ye Smoke: Of Those That Are Clove-Flavored…


Cigarette smokers with bohemian pretensions can breathe a fragrant, spicy sigh of relief: The bill that would authorize the FDA to regulate tobacco products, which originally prohibited all cigarette flavors except tobacco and menthol (ostensibly to help repel underage smokers), now makes an exception for cloves as well. The change supposedly was prompted by complaints from the Indonesian government, which said banning imports of clove cigarettes while permitting the sale of domestically produced menthol brands would violate America's free trade commitments. Another factor may have been Philip Morris's recent introduction of clove-flavored Marlboros in Indonesia. Although Philip Morris, the only tobacco company that supports the FDA bill, says it "has no plans" to sell clove cigarettes in the U.S., it hardly seems a coincidence that the two cigarette flavors permitted by the bill are ones it uses, while the banned flavors (which include vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, and orange) are used by its competitors.

Anti-smoking activist Michael Siegel reports an even funnier change to the bill: Tobacco companies would be forbidden to tell their customers that cigarettes are regulated by the FDA, lest the public mistakenly infer that cigarettes are safe. The bill's sponsors explain why it's necessary to stop cigarette makers from making statements that are indisputably true:

If manufacturers are permitted to state or imply in communications directed to consumers that a tobacco product is approved or inspected by the Food and Drug Administration or complies with Food and Drug Administration standards, consumers are likely to be confused and misled. Such a statement could result in consumers being misled into believing that the product is endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration for use or in consumers being misled about the harmfulness of the product because of such regulation, inspection, approval, or compliance.

Siegel, who has long opposed the bill in large part because he thinks it would have precisely this misleading effect, comments:

Apparently, the only way this legislation will work is if we trick people into thinking that the FDA does not regulate cigarettes….

What kind of cockamamie regulatory scheme depends upon the public not knowing about that scheme in order to avoid severe public health consequences?

How sensible can a regulatory approach be if we need to hide from the public the very fact that the regulatory scheme is in place?…

That is how foolish this legislation is. So foolish that we need to infringe upon the companies' First Amendment rights in order to make sure that the public doesn't catch wind that the legislation is in place.

NEXT: Pain Medication: Keep Chilled

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  1. I wonder if the enacted law and the FDA regs will be published in the same place as those secret airport ID regs are published.

  2. Thank God cloves are OK! If they weren’t we might have older and older hippies still voting.

  3. So are those Camel “special blends” right out?

  4. Thank God cloves are OK!

    Yeah, otherwise there would have been a mass revolt of pissed-off goth chicks.

  5. Why doesn’t Congress just mandate that the only two flavors of cigarettes allowed will be ass and feet?

  6. Speaking of which, whatever happened to ginseng cigarettes? They made for good smoking back in my preppy days.

  7. Legislation crafted ostensively for a political cause, and just happens to favor a large established business, is criticized by an activist in said cause? Say, maybe we’re getting smarter activists.

  8. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Goth chicks. . .

  9. jf | July 18, 2007, 8:40am | #
    Why doesn’t Congress just mandate that the only two flavors of cigarettes allowed will be ass and feet?

    jf wins the thread…

  10. Why doesn’t Congress just mandate that the only two flavors of cigarettes allowed will be ass and feet?

    I tried Marlboro Ass once and it didn’t go over too well.

  11. Normally I’d defend Phillip Morris but I’m a bit disgruntled with them at the moment (as a former contractor, not as a customer) so screw them.

  12. The no-mention-of-FDA provision isn’t novel. FFDCA 301(l) already prohibits:

    The using, on the labeling of any drug or device or in any advertising relating to such drug or device, of any representation or suggestion that approval of an application with respect to such drug or device is in effect under section 505, 515, or 520(g), as the case may be, or that such drug or device complies with the provisions of such action.

    It’s a back door way of (heh) immunizing fedgov. Rather than explicitly invoking sovereign immunity, Congress prohibits FDA’s being named as having in any way passed on the product, so you can’t say FDA injured you if the product injures you.

    When you get a marketing approval, you also get a form letter from FDA saying the license does not mean approval of the product itself. Your application to market the product is approved; the product itself is not. (FDA does actually certify certain classes of products: colors, antibiotics, biologics.)

  13. “Thank God cloves are OK!”

    “Yeah, otherwise there would have been a mass revolt of pissed-off goth chicks.”

    “Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Goth chicks. . .”

    Angrily jumping up and down in their black leather bustiers …

  14. Those flavors don’t taste like they say they do anyway. Never once in my cigar-smoking days did I exclaim inbetween puffs “hey, you can really taste the chocolate!”

    Then again, the green stuff I put in the cigar might’ve masked it…

  15. “Why doesn’t Congress just mandate that the only two flavors of cigarettes allowed will be ass and feet?”

    …because Phillip Morris markets chode flavor?

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