National Taxpayers Union has submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in favoring the approval for IQOS as a modified risk tobacco product. IQOS is a heat-not-burn tobacco system that intends to replicate the traditional smoking experience, but with significantly reduced health risks. While the FDA provides a core government function to protect the health and safety of the public, it is generally risk-averse when it comes to product approval. However, Philip Morris International has presented an application backed by strong scientific evidence that should easily pass muster with the FDA.
Regulatory hurdles that are excessively intrusive and burdensome have a serious impact on businesses and consumers. As regulatory compliance costs increase, businesses allocate more capital for expenses and delay the delivery of new products. While some compliance costs are taken out of businesses’ profits, much of the costs are passed down to consumers in the form of higher prices. Should IQOS be subject to an unduly, lengthy, and costly review process, millions of cigarette smokers who want to quit but do not have an acceptable, less harmful alternative, could face serious health consequences.
IQOS approval, as outlined in our comments, will be also be a win for taxpayers and the economy. Diseases stemming from cigarette smoking increase healthcare costs by $170 billion annually, with taxpayer-funded healthcare programs like Medicaid footing the bill for over $100 billion. Further, adults enrolled on Medicaid are more-than-twice as likely to smoke cigarettes compared to those on a private insurance program. Economic deadweight losses stemming from cigarette smoking total $156 billion, including $5.6 billion in lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure.
Dozens of advanced countries around the world have thoroughly reviewed and approved the science behind this product. It is time for the United States to join these ranks and approve IQOS as a heat-not-burn product.