Food and Drug Law Journal   |  February 1, 2018

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The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (TCA) requires tobacco companies to disclose information about the harmful chemicals in their products to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The law requires the FDA, in turn, to communicate this information to the public “in a format that is understandable and not misleading to a lay person.” But how should the FDA comply with this requirement? What does it mean for information about complex chemicals to be “understandable and not misleading to a lay person”? These questions are not easy ones to answer. Disclosures about the amount of harmful chemicals (constituents) in different tobacco products may help to inform consumers, but may also conversely prompt consumers to reach incorrect or unsupported conclusions about products’ relative health risks.

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