In comments made public today, the Federal Trade Commission has told the Food and Drug Administration that it supports the FDA's goal of reducing tobacco use among children and adolescents. The FTC also said it supports effective regulations designed to make youth access to tobacco products more difficult, and to impose appropriate advertising and promotion restrictions designed to reduce the appeal and use of these products by children and adolescents.
The FTC comments discuss the FTC's own jurisdiction in the area, First Amendment issues raised by the proposed advertising restrictions, and the FTC's experience with requiring "clear and conspicuous" disclosures in advertising. In response to the FDA's questions about testing for the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes, the FTC indicated that it is conducting its own review of a number of issues relating to its current test method and ratings system.
The Commission comments respond to a notice the FDA published in the Federal Register proposing regulations for reducing the use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to children. The Commission vote to file the comments was 5-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga issuing a concurring statement in which she said she "would have preferred that the Commission's comment focus on empirical basis for the assumptions on which the proposed regulations rest," rather than the constitutionality of the FDA's proposals. She said, "This is an area in which the Commission traditionally has commented and in which it is eminently well qualified to provide extensive and reliable advice." She also observed that constitutionality "[u]ltimately . . . is an issue for the courts" and one that "the FDA is amply competent . . . to assess . . .."
Copies of the comments and Commissioner Azcuenaga's full statement are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. P954506)