Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on Friday renewed his call for the nation to escalate the battle against smoking with the same fervor it devotes to illicit drugs, and he assailed a new smokeless cigarette as "a drug in a cigarette-shaped dispenser."
Koop and other anti-smoking witnesses told Congress that the Food and Drug Administration should regulate any sales of the "smokeless cigarette" being developed by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., even though the agency does not have jurisdiction over regular tobacco products.The surgeon general noted that "our nation has mobilized enormous resources to wage a war on drugs - illicit drugs. We should also give priority to the one addiction - tobacco addiction - that is killing more than 300,000 Americans each year."
Koop, as he has previously, declared that tobacco is as addictive as cocaine and heroin. And he told a House subcommittee that the FDA should regulate any sales of the so-called smokeless cigarette because it "contains nicotine, which is a drug in a cigarette-shaped dispenser."
Koop testified to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health and the environment about the 618-page, anti-smoking report he issued in May. "Careful examination of the data," he said, "makes it clear that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting. An extensive body of research has shown that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction."
Charles O. Whitley, representing the Tobacco Institute, said the FDA barely has the resources to carry out its current duties without adding tobacco products to its jurisdiction. He said the report "is a political document."
"Its conclusions conform with the surgeon general's political goal of a smokeless society, and undoubtedly were reached long before the report was drafted," Whitley said.
R.J. Reynolds announced last September that it would market the smokeless cigarette, which contains tobacco. It heats but does not burn tobacco to deliver the nicotine.