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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- For the past several years, tobacco companies have been looking to fill the hole left by struggling cigarette sales with new products. Those efforts have stalled as their applications sit waiting for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
That is about to change, however. Mitch Zeller, director of the agency's Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), told the attendees at the 98th annual Tobacco Merchants Association meeting that it will move quickly to work through the backlog of approximately 3,500 applications submitted by tobacco companies -- for both new products and changes to existing ones, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"You have my word that addressing the backlog … is a high priority and that we are working diligently," he said.
Zeller, who took the helm at the CTP in March, also said the agency is "very close" in determining whether it will ban menthol cigarettes and how it will regulate such products as cigars and pipe tobacco. It also is "ramping up" a public education campaign aimed at preventing youth from starting tobacco use, he added.
As the tobacco industry waits for FDA action, Zeller pledged “efficient, effective and fair” regulation of tobacco products.