October 2013 Newsletter

A Win for Tobacco Control in Providence
Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center Rolls out New Model Policy
Cayuga County to Reduce Density of Retailers near Schools
New York Law Expands Smoke-free Outdoor Areas
New York Adults Increasingly Favor Point of Sale Tobacco Control Policies
FDA Regulation of Menthol
“Deeming” Regulations and Electronic Cigarettes
Featured Former Smoker in Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign Passes Away

A Win for Tobacco Control in Providence

In a victory for tobacco control advocates in Providence, RI, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently affirmed a lower court ruling that two Providence tobacco control laws are valid. The Appellate Court agreed that the laws, which restrict price discounting of tobacco products and the sale of flavored products, do not violate the U.S. Constitution nor are they preempted by federal law.

While the First Circuit decision is not binding on New York courts, it does provide support for these types of tobacco regulations (the Center’s latest model policy restricting certain price promotions, for example). Together with the Second Circuit decision upholding the restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco products in New York City, this decision bolsters efforts to reduce the appeal of tobacco products to youth, and to reduce youth exposure to point of sale marketing (e.g., price promotions).

For a full summary of the decision, see our website.

Read the court’s opinion here.

Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center Rolls out New Model Policy

The Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center published a new technical report, Tobacco Price Promotion: Local Regulation of Discount Coupons and Certain Value-Added Sales earlier this year. The report includes a new model policy to help keep the price of tobacco products high in New York communities. The model prohibits tobacco retailers from redeeming discount coupons or providing certain other discounted sales of tobacco products.

In August, Center staff teamed up with Cicatelli Associates to roll out the new model policy. The roll out included training for Bureau of Tobacco Control contractors and staff regarding the rationale for the new model—namely, that tobacco consumption is inversely related to tobacco product price, and tobacco industry price promotions not only undermine the health effects of price increases, but also serve to increase exposure to point of sale marketing. Contractors reviewed key findings in the report and honed their skills at incorporating the issues of tobacco product prices and Industry price promotions into their existing education efforts around point of sale tobacco marketing.

As contractors incorporate this model into their menu of effective community tobacco control options, they should feel free to contact the Center with any questions or concerns.

Cayuga County to Reduce Density of Retailers near Schools

In September, Cayuga County legislators approved a new law that establishes a licensing system for tobacco retailers, effective January 2014. The law, based on the Center’s model licensing ordinance, requires that all retailers selling tobacco products obtain a license (free of charge) from the County Department of Health and Human Services.  The license will initially be useful as an enforcement tool for existing federal, state and local tobacco control laws—retailers are subject to fines, or license suspension or revocation for violations of tobacco laws or regulations. However, in the second year, the county will refuse new licenses to any retailer within 100 feet of any school. This provision will serve to gradually reduce the density of tobacco retailers in immediate proximity to schools. This is a notable first step towards reducing the impact of point of sale tobacco marketing on youth throughout the county!

New York Law Expands Smoke-free Outdoor Areas

New York recently passed two laws that expand smoke-free outdoor areas to playgrounds and hospital grounds.

The first prohibits smoking at New York playgrounds between sunrise and sunset, when anyone under the age of twelve is present. The law will take effect October 10, 2013. The prohibition does not apply to playgrounds located in New York City, areas intended for use as athletic fields or courts, or playgrounds and playground equipment constructed on one, two, and three-family residential properties.

The second generally restricts smoking on and around the grounds of hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state. Under this new law, smoking is prohibited outdoors on the grounds of hospitals and residential health care facilities, including within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit or within 15 feet of the entrance to or exit from the grounds. Residential health care facilities alone may designate a separate outdoor smoking area on their grounds (and patients are still permitted to smoke in a separate designated smoking room inside residential facilities).

Exposure to second-hand smoke is unsafe at any level and recent studies have shown that second-hand smoke outdoors can reach concentrations found in indoor areas where smoking is permitted, particularly in places where multiple smokers congregate, such as near building entryways and outdoor eating areas. In New York State alone, second-hand smoke exposure is responsible for 2,500 deaths a year. In addition to reducing the risk of exposure to the toxins found in second-hand smoke, increasing the number of smoke-free outdoor spaces helps reduce the social acceptability of smoking, which can ultimately reduce smoking initiation and aid cessation.

Both laws build on existing New York laws establishing smoke-free outdoor spaces. Other state-mandated smoke-free outdoor areas include railroad station boarding, ticketing, and platform areas; certain areas within state parks; historic sites; recreational areas; and the grounds of elementary and secondary schools. To read more about the specifics of each law please visit our New York State Law page. For more information about smoke-free outdoor areas, visit our website.

New York Adults Increasingly Favor Point of Sale Tobacco Control Policies

Research based on the New York Adult Tobacco Survey shows that from 2010 to 2012 the number of adults that support policies limiting the number of licensed tobacco retailers in the state significantly increased. Further, support for policies prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, prohibiting tobacco displays, and prohibiting the sale of tobacco products near schools increased not only in New York, but around the country. New York Department of Health will soon post the survey synopsis their website.

FDA Regulation of Menthol

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) prohibits characterizing flavor additives in cigarettes, with the notable exception of menthol flavor. Menthol, which gives cigarettes a minty flavor, is used by tobacco manufacturers to mask the harshness of tobacco smoke. Research has found that menthol increases the attractiveness of cigarettes to youth and new (youth) smokers often use menthol cigarettes as “starter” products. The Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC) found that menthol increases the likelihood of addiction among youth smokers and increases the prevalence of smoking, particularly among African Americans. Furthermore, menthol in cigarettes is associated with reduced success in smoking cessation, especially among African American menthol smokers. As a result, TPSAC recommended that “removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would benefit public health.”

In light of this recommendation, and goaded by a Citizen Petition on the issue, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting public comments related to potential regulation of menthol in cigarettes. Posted on July 24, 2013, the FDA is seeking public comment on its own data, evaluation, and research, as well as any other information relating to the regulation of menthol in cigarettes. This filing by the FDA provides an opportunity for the public to provide information on the impact of menthol cigarettes in local communities and voice support for strong action on the regulation of menthol in cigarettes. The deadline for comments has been extended until November 22, 2013. The Center has prepared a guide to help contractors submit public comments, available here. Additionally, contractors can find more information about the research supporting regulation of menthol in cigarettes in the Citizen Petition filed by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium.

If you have any additional questions about these two FDA filings, or others, please contact the Center at tobacco@nesl.edu or (617) 368-1465.

“Deeming” Regulations and Electronic Cigarettes

In 2009, Congress enacted the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) authorizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products. The law expressly authorizes the FDA to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco; however, the law requires the FDA to take further steps if it chooses to exercise its regulatory authority over other tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah, or dissolvable tobacco products.  Specifically, the FDA must issue regulations stating its intent to regulate the product, thereby “deeming” that product subject to FDA jurisdiction.  After a deeming regulation is issued, the agency may then regulate that product alongside cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

To date, the FDA has yet to issue any deeming regulations. However, the agency has recently indicated it intends to exercise its authority over electronic cigarettes and issue proposed regulations pertaining to them by the end of October 2013. If so, the inclusion of electronic cigarettes as a regulated tobacco product should be accompanied by marketing and sale restrictions, ingredient disclosures, and more.  While federal regulation of this product would be a critical step forward, it is still important for communities to consider tailored electronic cigarette policies that best serve their community.

Featured Former Smoker in Anti-Smoking Ad Campaign Passes Away

Terrie Hall, a former smoker well known for her appearance in the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) graphic anti-smoking advertising campaign, died of cancer in September at the age of 53. Hall suffered from oral and throat cancer caused by cigarettes which she started smoking as a high school student. Over the summer the cancer spread to her brain.

The ads in which Hall appeared demonstrated the devastating effects of tobacco on her body. One ad featured Hall getting ready for the day by putting on a wig, false teeth and a scarf to cover the stoma in her throat. In another ad, Terrie told viewers that her grandson never heard her real voice, because her larynx was removed before he was born.

CDC Director Tom Frieden calls Hall “a public health hero.” The CDC estimates that 200,000 Americans quit smoking immediately following the 12-week Tips from Former Smokers campaign. In comparison to the same 12 week period in 2011, the number of calls to 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled and visits to the website Smokefree.gov increased by more than five times.