Here is a question for you. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it will "protect the health of all Americans." Which of the following actions did the FDA take?
A. Eliminate the nicotine in cigarettes so that they are much less addictive.
B. Regulate the carcinogens in cigarettes so that they are much less carcinogenic.
C. Implement a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to discourage tobacco use so that smoking initiation rates become much lower.
D. Reach an agreement with electronic cigarette manufacturers on a regulatory system for these products that will result in a substantial number of smokers quitting via use of these innovative and much safer products.
E. Vow to protect the health of all Americans by making cigarettes safer...no...I mean, by agreeing not to allow cigarettes that are more hazardous than the ones that are already killing more than 400,000 Americans each year.
The answer is...
... E. Vow to protect the health of all Americans by making cigarettes safer...no...I mean, by agreeing not to allow cigarettes that are more hazardous than the ones that are already killing more than 400,000 Americans each year.
If this is the best they can do, they might want to consider quitting their day jobs.
The action announced by the FDA yesterday was the release of industry guidance indicating that all changes to products on the market will be reviewed to make sure that these products do not become "more dangerous."
If you think that's funny, the funniest part of this story is actually that this "praiseworthy" action of the FDA was touted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as being a huge victory for the public's health.
Do you mean to tell me that this is the great public health victory that all the anti-smoking groups, politicians, and federal agencies like the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services have been raving about? We can all breathe a lot easier - and live a lot longer - because the deadly cigarettes on the market will not be made any more deadly.
This is truly cause to celebrate in the streets. How about a flash mob on the Capitol steps to show our appreciation for this courageous and game-changing public health initiative?
It's difficult to believe, but FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg actually stated that this complete non-action is going to protect the health of all Americans. She said: "This piece of the Tobacco Control Act protects the health of all Americans."
This is what we pay the FDA for? To make sure that the deadly tobacco products that are killing hundreds of thousands of Americans each year don't suddenly become more deadly than they already are?
And is this why we contribute money to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids? To make sure that the death toll from tobacco rises no higher than 400,000 and that its health care costs remain at $100 billion per year?
Can you imagine if the FDA announced that it was going to "protect the health of all Americans" by making sure that new non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs don't cause more heart attacks than Vioxx?
Would we all be praising the FDA and touting a great public health victory if the Agency issued a guidance for pharmaceutical companies indicating that no changes to pain medications would be allowed if those changes resulted in more severe heart rhythm abnormalities than were caused by Darvon?
Would health groups be applauding the FDA for announcing that in evaluating cold medicines in the future, its standard of review would be whether or not the proposed drug causes more hemorrhagic strokes, or more severe hemorrhagic strokes, than phenylpropanolamine?
Would the FDA have the gall to issue a self-congratulatory press release boasting that it will require all new Parkinson's disease medications to show that they are no more likely to cause leaky heart valves than Permax?
This is a great day for the children of America. Sure, they will continue to die in the future at a rate of 400,000 a year. But it is a great day for rejoicing in public health because it won't be any higher than that!