Thursday, June 21, 2007

Will The FDA End Up Endorsing A Safer Cigarette?

Sometimes you read something that just strikes you as so ironic.

Under bills now wending through Washington, FDA would be empowered to approve cigarette makers’ marketing claims if a tobacco product is scientifically proven to “significantly reduce harm” to smokers, and the product’s availability would benefit the “health of the population as a whole,” the WSJ reports. That designation could be provide “a potentially lucrative opportunity” for the company.

Philip Morris (MO)\ has a bunch of test products in the works, including one with a carbon filter, and another with a battery-powered device that heats the tobacco. But it’s unclear whether any of them would qualify for the potential FDA-approved marketing claims. And the public health community is skeptical. “We must be extremely wary of claims made by manufacturers,” the dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health told the WSJ.

Altria has supported this legislation from the beginning while it's competitors like Reynolds (RAI) have fought it. By embracing it's inevitable passage and participating in it, Altria has leap frogged over it's competition in developing products that will take advantage of the new rules.

Here is the irony. While "lights" suits wind their way through the courts across the nation, the FDA will undoubtedly end up endorsing a cigarette that is "lighter" or "safer". You just cannot make this stuff up.

The government should just back off tobacco companies, every time they try to nail them, they only end up making their business stronger.

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