Aug 5, 2013 • 25M

Will the FDA Ban Menthol-Flavored Cigarettes? A Conversation with Dr. Andrea Villanti and Ms. Diane Canova (August 6, 2013)

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David Introcaso, Ph.D.
Podcast interviews with health policy experts on timely subjects. The Healthcare Policy Podcast website features audio interviews with healthcare policy experts on timely topics. An online public forum routinely presenting expert healthcare policy analysis and comment is lacking. While other healthcare policy website programming exists, these typically present vested interest viewpoints or do not combine informed policy analysis with political insight or acumen. Since healthcare policy issues are typically complex, clear, reasoned, dispassionate discussion is required. These podcasts will attempt to fill this void. Among other topics this podcast will address: •Implementation of the Affordable Care Act •Other federal Medicare and state Medicaid health care issues •Federal health care regulatory oversight, moreover CMS and the FDA •Healthcare research •Private sector healthcare delivery reforms including access, reimbursement and quality issues •Public health issues including the social determinates of health Listeners are welcomed to share their program comments and suggest programming ideas. Comments made by the interviewees are strictly their own and do not represent those of their affiliated organization/s.
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In 2009 the Congress overwhelmingly passed landmark legislation (commontly termed the "Tobacco Control Act") that included banning flavored cigarettes - except menthol.  Instead, the Congress called upon the FDA to first study the use of menthol before taking action.   In 2011 the FDA released an initial report, the conclusions of which were widely interpreted.  Two weeks ago the FDA released a subsequent report again finding the menthol/mint flavor helps people acquire the tobacco/nicotine addiction but did not increase the risk of disease compared to smoking non-menthol cigarettes.  Neither report recommended banning or restricting the use of menthol. 

During this 24-minute podcast Andrea Villanti and Diane Canova discuss why menthol was exempted in the 2009 legislation, the findings of the 2011 Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, why the FDA chose to follow up with a report of their own (released July 23rd) and what it found, various confounding factors including an international trade dispute concerning the importation of clove cigarettes and ultimately their take on whether and when the FDA will either ban or regulate menthol's use.       

Dr. Andrea Villanti is an Associate Director for Regulatory Science and Policy at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Legacy Foundation and holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Her work concerns translational research to improve tobacco control policy and program decision-making with a specific focus on young adult cessation.  Since the passage of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, she has been actively engaged in research on the impact of menthol cigarettes on tobacco use behaviors.  Dr. Villanti received her doctorate in Social and Behavioral Sciences the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and she received both her Master’s in Public Health and BA in Medical Ethics from Columbia University.

Ms. Diane Canova is currently Vice President of Government Affairs at the Legacy Foundation. Previously, Diane served as Vice President of Policy and Programs with the Partnership for Prevention.  Prior still she served as Vice President of Advocacy for the American Heart Association and as Director of Government Relations for the American Red Cross.  Ms. Canova is a founding board member and immediate past chair of the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) and frequent lecturer on nonprofit leadership and advocacy.  She received her JD from the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and her BS in Education from Kent State.