Remarks by Anna Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis
Barbara Jordan Conference Center
December 12, 2017
Good morning. Unfortunately, Dr. Gottlieb was unable to be with you this morning, but he sends his regards and asked me to come and say a few words on his behalf. I’m pleased to join you this morning since I know the Commissioner is excited for the official kick off of the Food and Drug Administration’s new "Every Try Counts" campaign.
"Every Try Counts" is part of FDA’s ongoing efforts to reduce the enormous public health burden of tobacco use, and will complement the Agency’s at-risk youth and young adult public education campaigns aimed at tobacco prevention.
This past July, Dr. Gottlieb announced FDA’s comprehensive plan for the regulation of tobacco and nicotine that places the harms caused by the powerfully addictive levels of nicotine in cigarettes at the center of FDA’s efforts.
While the Agency is working very hard to realize the goals of those initiatives – including preventing future generations of young people from becoming addicted to tobacco – this new campaign FDA is announcing today will help current adult smokers kick their addiction to combustible cigarettes.
There is no question that cigarette addiction takes a serious toll on our Nation’s public health.
Cigarettes are designed to create and sustain addiction. Addiction causes long-term sustained use, which exposes users to the harmful and toxic mix of chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke that cause disease and death. Cigarettes are the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users.
But I don’t need to tell most of you in this room this. We all know too well that cigarettes are highly addictive and tough to quit. And we also know that this addiction crisis is claiming lives and harming American families and their loved ones.
As the Commissioner said in July, FDA is at a unique moment in history, with profound new tools to address this devastating public health reality.
Building upon the individual-level successes FDA hopes to see from "Every Try Counts," the Agency also has an opportunity to take an historically important step toward protecting public health at the population-level by examining nicotine in combustible cigarettes.
When the Commissioner announced FDA’s new, comprehensive approach to regulating tobacco products, he directed the FDA Center for Tobacco Products to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek input on how we could reach the point where cigarettes no longer create and sustain addiction.
Envisioning a world where cigarettes are minimally or non-addictive is bold, but it’s achievable.
A centerpiece of FDA’s comprehensive regulatory plan is acknowledging that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products on a continuum of risk. And it’s the delivery mechanism – not the nicotine itself – that is truly the issue at-hand.
On one end of the spectrum, when nicotine is delivered through a medicinal product such as therapeutic gums, lozenges and patches, it’s been found so safe and effective that the FDA doesn’t even require a prescription for them.
However, it’s at the other end – the combustible cigarette – where nicotine’s delivery vehicle leads to incredible amounts of morbidity and mortality.
The tobacco marketplace is clearly evolving at a rapid pace. FDA’s new strategy will allow the Agency to use its understanding of nicotine to reduce use of the most harmful tobacco products, help more addicted smokers quit, and enable those who still need or want it to get their nicotine from a less harmful product.
Under Dr. Gottlieb’s leadership, FDA envisions a world where cigarettes can no longer create and sustain addiction, a world where future generations won’t know the devastating health toll of tobacco use from which previous generations suffered.
While FDA works to put these policies in place, the "Every Try Counts" campaign will offer encouraging words to addicted smokers at one of the most critical places – at the point of sale.
Tobacco products have long been advertised at convenience stores and gas stations. "Every Try Counts" will use that same space to encourage and empower smokers to quit instead.
On behalf of the Commissioner, I want to commend the work done by FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products to protect and promote the public health. Empiric evidence demonstrates that FDA’s prior campaigns have reduced smoking rates, especially among youth, and saved lives. It is one of the most impactful public health investments FDA has made.
And now, it’s my pleasure to introduce the Director of the Center for Tobacco Products, my colleague, Mitch Zeller. Thank you.