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VERIFY: No, the FDA does not approve tobacco products

The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Now many skeptics are saying the FDA also approved cigarettes, but is that true?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — *The above video originally aired Monday on First Coast News

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive the agency's approval.

Prior to the FDA's recent vaccine approval, the refrain of many COVID-19 vaccine skeptics was "it's not approved by the FDA."

In the days following the FDA's approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, the skeptics are now touting a new line - cigarettes are also approved by the FDA.

Many are sharing the claim on social media, including Jacksonville rapper Lil Duval. They're insinuating that the FDA's approval does not necessarily mean something is good for you. 

THE QUESTION

Are cigarettes and other tobacco products approved for manufacture and consumption by the FDA?

OUR SOURCES

  • The FDA.

THE ANSWER

No, tobacco products are not "FDA approved." The administration monitors and regulates the sale and distribution of tobacco products but does not endorse the use of tobacco. 

WHAT WE FOUND

According to the FDA website: 

"There’s no such thing as a safe tobacco product, so FDA’s safe and effective standard for evaluating medical products is not appropriate for tobacco products. Instead, FDA regulates tobacco products based on a public health standard that considers the product’s risks to the population as a whole."

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act provides several legal ways for companies to advertise and sell new tobacco products. The FDA is in charge of making sure new products meet the legal standards of the Act. 

If that product meets the requirements, the FDA issues a written notice allowing the company to market the product. 

An authorization, however, only allows tobacco products to be sold. It does not mean the products are safe or "FDA approved."

FDA press officer Allison Hunt told First Coast News, "all tobacco products are potentially harmful and addictive and those who do not use tobacco products should continue not to."

Also from the FDA website: 

"There is no known safe tobacco product. FDA does not have the authority to ban any class of tobacco products, such as cigarettes. We do, however, have the authority to dramatically reduce the harm of all tobacco products, and we will use that authority to continue improving public health."

   

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