According to a recent article in the USA Today, there have been almost no new tobacco or cigarette products released in the United States in more than 18 months. The article attributes this stall to the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (P.L. 111-131), which is more commonly referred to as the Tobacco Control Act.
Since June of 2009 the industry has submitted nearly 3,500 product applications but none have been ruled on to date. The article quotes FDA officials as stating that the review process is taking a long time due significant deficiencies in the applications and the extra care given by the agency for products that pose public health risks.
The article also discusses an industry group, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which is concerned that some tobacco manufacturers are selling products which shouldn’t be sold until they are approved by the FDA. Products being scrutinized by the group include a cigarette that can be switched to menthol by crushing a capsule into the filter. Currently the companies claim they are complying with federal law and the FDA says it is investigating these claims.
Some companies are arguing that the current guidelines require an application for product changes that are exactly equivalent to old products, such as marketing a product under a different brand name.
The FDA website currently has graphics and information to help manufacturers understand which path is appropriate for their new tobacco products, but only time will tell if any of the 3,500 pending applications will be approved or not.