Attorney General Becerra: FDA Should Prioritize Public Health and Safety in New Tobacco Rules

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra submitted a series of comment letters this month to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to promote public health and safety when considering new tobacco rules. In the comment letters, Attorney General Becerra addressed proposals to deregulate premium cigars, set a maximum nicotine level standard, set a standard on flavored tobacco products, and assess the effects of such changes on illicit trade in tobacco products. 

“Tobacco use continues to be a leading public health concern. It demands a serious and coordinated response from law enforcement and public health officials,” said Attorney General Becerra. “At the California Department of Justice, we are committed to working with our state and federal partners to foster healthy communities that promote wellness and prevention. As the FDA considers new approaches to tobacco regulation, we’re urging them to create a system that puts the health and safety of our families first.”

Attorney General Becerra submitted four comment letters urging the FDA to consider the following proposals:

Cigars: Attorney General Becerra led four State Attorneys General in urging the FDA not to exempt premium cigars from its regulation and made clear the importance of creating a workable definition of premium cigars to ensure consistent and effective enforcement.

Nicotine: Attorney General Becerra led six State Attorneys General in urging the FDA to apply nicotine standards to all combusted products—roll-your-own tobacco, cigarillos, cigars, pipe tobacco and waterpipe tobacco—not just cigarettes. He also urged the FDA to continue to support tobacco control that addresses all aspects of smoking, including addiction, and to increase research on non-combusted tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes.

Flavored Tobacco: Attorney General Becerra urged the FDA to prohibit flavored tobacco products unless the manufacturer is able to prove that the flavored product has an overall public health benefit.

Illicit Trade: Attorney General Becerra joined a multistate effort to urge the FDA to consider the following protections against illicit trade:

  • Prohibit all internet or remote sales of tobacco products;
  • Develop national tobacco product brand directory;
  • Create a track and trace reporting system for tobacco products;
  • Promote cooperation and collaboration between federal and state regulators;
  • Enforce distinctive packaging of compliant products;
  • Make available a reliable, affordable and convenient field test to better determine if a product meets the required standards.

Attorney General Becerra remains committed to combating tobacco usage. On June 12, 2018, he announced $37.5 million in state grants to combat the illegal sale and marketing of cigarettes and tobacco products to minors. The grants to 71 local entities throughout the state will fund operations, retailer training programs, the installation of signage, youth outreach, tobacco retail license inspections, training for sworn personnel, and other activities.

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