Newsom says thanks but no thanks, FDA

As a federal agency moves to implement anti-smoking legislation, Mayor Gavin Newsom is urging it to not interfere with local governments’ ability to pass tougher laws to curb tobacco use.

In a recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Newsom  praised The City’s efforts to crack down on the tobacco industry during the past 12 years.

San Francisco has gone after the industry with success, including becoming the first city to ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and suing RJ Reynolds for using the Joe Camel cartoon character to sell its product, which led the company to abandon the use of the
image throughout the nation.

“The Food and Drug Administration should take no action that would interfere with or preempt state and local laws regulating tobacco products,” Newsom said in the letter.

“The mayor is saying that the FDA should not put barriers in the way of additional regulations,” said Catherine Dodd, Newsom’s former deputy director of health.

The federal agency is accepting public comment until Dec. 28 on how it should implement the regulation of tobacco products in the
aftermath of President Barack Obama signing into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

The FDA “should encourage and assist state and local governments” in their efforts to impose new regulations, Newsom said in the letter. He offered such examples as the possible banning of menthol-flavored tobacco products and the requirement of prescriptions for the purchase of tobacco products. That does not mean, however, that Newsom is planning to propose stricter tobacco regulations locally. Dodd said Newsom is not considering any legislation at this time to further regulate tobacco in The City.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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