WASHINGTON D.C. — Yesterday, TechFreedom filed comments urging the Food and Drug Administration to approve Philip Morris’ (PMI) Modified Risk Tobacco Product (MRTP) application for its novel IQOS system which heats, rather than burns, tobacco. Congress established the MRTP process in 2009 to encourage manufacturers to “make bold, innovative product changes that substantially reduce … the toxicity of tobacco products,” as the FDA noted in 2012.
“Heating tobacco at lower temperatures greatly reduces the ingestion of harmful chemicals while giving the user an experience closer to smoking than other nicotine delivery products,” explained TechFreedom Legal Fellow Graham Owens. “This means nicotine users are more likely to switch to IQOS than to other products — and more lives will be saved through technological progress. If the purpose of the MRTP process is to support innovative products that reduces the toxicity of tobacco products, it seems clear that PMI’s novel IQOS system should receive such a designation.”
TechFreedom’s comments urged the FDA to partner with the FTC to police consumer protection concerns that may arise regarding the IQOS system and similar products:
The FDA should grant PMI’s MRTP application expeditiously, and formalize a partnership with the FTC. Doing so is not only required by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, but would also further the FDA’s mission of “protecting public health” and “helping speed innovation” by combining the FDA’s expertise in health products with the FTC’s expertise in preventing deceptive marketing practices and overseeing technological advancements.
“Partnering with the FTC would further FDA’s mission by ensuring that the benefits of the IQOS system are available to all Americans by reducing costs,” continued Owens. “The best way to do that while also protecting public health is to partner with the FTC. The FTC has a long history of informing the public through consumer reports, and ensuring lawmakers act in consumers’ best interests through its competition advocacy program. The FTC has extensive experience policing health claims by tobacco companies and overseeing technological advancements, making the FTC’s case-by-case approach far better suited to fast-changing industries. Leveraging the FTC’s flexibility and expertise is critical for the FDA to provide consumers with genuinely beneficial technologies as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Just since 2014, 3.7 million adult consumers outside the U.S. have switched from traditional cigarettes to the far safer IQOS system. Further, smoking rates among the nation’s less wealthy and educated remain far above those of adults overall. Thus, the sooner the FDA grants MRTP approval here, the more Americans will reap the benefits of innovation in nicotine delivery. And the less cumbersome and costly the regulation of already approved MRTP technologies, the more likely it is that Americans who truly need it will benefit from ongoing innovation in alternatives to cigarettes.”
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