Groups Want FDA To Approve Eclipse
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Twenty-two public-health organizations have asked the Food and Drug Administration to regulate Eclipse, a new reduced-smoke cigarette that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. claims is safer than other cigarettes.
The groups, including the American Cancer Society and American Medical Association, signed a petition sent to the FDA this month seeking the regulation.
``I'm concerned people will switch to Eclipse falsely believing it's been proven it will reduce their risk of disease,'' said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who wrote the letter. ``It is precisely these types of claims the FDA protects the American public against.''
Eclipse is a nicotine-delivery system, not a cigarette, making it eligible for government regulation, the petition says. The Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that Congress did not give the FDA authority to regulate cigarettes.
Reynolds says testing of Eclipse, which heats tobacco instead of burning it, shows the cigarette lowers a smoker's risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis and possibly emphysema.
``The claim that Eclipse may present smokers with less risk of cancer, chronic bronchitis and possibly emphysema is fully supported by extensive scientific research,'' RJR spokesman Seth Moskowitz said.
Anti-smoking advocates and the Clinton administration are skeptical of such claims and say Eclipse still doesn't eliminate the health risks of smoking.
The FDA plans to investigate the issue. ``We are looking into it, and we are concerned,'' said FDA spokeswoman Laura Bradbard.
Twelve years ago, anti-tobacco forces pressed for FDA regulation of Premier, Reynolds Tobacco's first attempt at a smokeless cigarette. Reynolds pulled the brand from the market in 1989 before the agency made a decision.
The group also sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission calling for action against Reynolds for what the letter calls false and misleading advertising of Eclipse.