Two powerhouse federal agencies have come up with another scheme, a first-of-its-kind regulatory science tobacco program, to figure out how to regulate tobacco products and protect public health.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have teamed, awarding $53 million create 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS). After the first year, $273 million could be awarded over the next five years.
Despite decades of effort to reduce tobacco use in the United States, smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America. Clearly, the 45 million-plus Americans still smoking feel they can beat the odds. They can’t.
Smoking kills. The collateral damage from the burden of death, disease, and disability goes beyond individual smokers and their families, right into the society. The cost of health care and loss of productivity from smoking related illnesses is close to $200 billion. The average pack of cigarettes is $6.36, but the health care cost are equivalent to $35.00 per pack.
For many reasons, none of which are as difficult and insurmountable as dying, smokers struggle to quit, in spite of the certainty of death. Manufacturers care more about money than health.
Grasping at straws, perhaps, but applying the only tool they have, the FDA and NIH will fund centers to conduct research to fuel a “science-based approach that addresses the complex public health issues raised by tobacco product regulation.”
They are so proud. “For the first time, under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the federal government, through the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), is able to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
They hope to develop science and research programs designed to increase understanding of the risks associated with tobacco use. The risk is death. That has been made pretty clear. More science needed? Really?
Not to diminish what they are planning, but one in five deaths each year is related to smoking. Research has proven that. What we don’t seem to know is how to stop people from killing themselves. This knowledge will come too late for the people I love. I hope not for you or any people you love who are struggling to quit smoking.
Let’s hope that the FDA/NIH TCORS partnership will be able to reduce the burden and devastation of the PREVENTABLE diseases caused by tobacco use.