FDA Seeking Comments on Proposed Smokeless Tobacco Regs

Jul 5, 2017

Tobacco drying in west Kentucky
Credit Matt Markgraf, WKMS

The Food and Drug Administration’s first proposed regulation related to smokeless tobacco is getting attention from agriculture and health officials in Kentucky. 

A comment period on the federal proposal ends next Monday.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles says the state’s roughly 1,500 growers of dark leaf burley could be adversely affected by the FDA rule under consideration. 

Quarles says health and farm economy issues both deserve attention when it comes to smokeless tobacco.

“You have to balance public health concerns, but also realize as consumers continue to choose this product, that Kentucky farmers can benefit from that,” said Quarles.

Ellen Hahn is director of Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments or BREATHE.  She says the proposed regulation focuses on reducing cancer-causing elements in smokeless tobacco.

“It’s not proposing to take it off the market.  It’s just saying look, let’s make sure that the products are a little safer,” Hahn said.

Hahn admits the FDA regulation would affect the growing and aging of burley.  But, she adds much money is being spent taking care of people in Kentucky who are sickened by tobacco products.

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