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AOA Supports FDA’s Proposed Ban on Tobacco Flavors

The goal is “to reduce tobacco use and to ensure that fewer Americans suffer sight-threatening eye disease,” said AOA President Robert C. Layman, OD.




The American Optometric Association has lent its support to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed ban on certain flavored tobacco products.

AOA explains in a posting on its website:

In April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued proposed product standards to prohibit menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes and prohibit all characterizing flavors other than tobacco in cigars. The FDA asserts these public health actions could significantly reduce disease and preventable deaths by removing a key factor in the appeal of combustible tobacco products among youth and regular smokers—flavorings.

“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” says Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”

The AOA submitted public comments in favor of the product standard changes on May 17 “as they may help reduce overall smoking rates and, in turn, stave off the adverse health effects that cigarette or cigar smoking has on eye health and vision.”

According to AOA:


Significantly, smokers have anywhere from a two-fold to four-fold increase in risk over nonsmokers for developing macular degeneration, as well as an increased risk of cataract development. Smoking may exacerbate the risk of eye disease for populations already at greater risk for certain diseases, such as cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, which can cause severe vision loss or blindness.

“We fully support efforts such as this proposed rule to reduce tobacco use and to ensure that fewer Americans suffer sight-threatening eye disease,” noted an AOA letter signed by AOA President Robert C. Layman, OD.

AOA also stated in its comments: “We urge the FDA to continue its efforts to reduce nicotine levels, restrict tobacco advertising, provide resources for quitting, and decrease the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, especially among youth and young adults,” the AOA comments read. “The loss of vision from smoking is entirely preventable.”


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