NORMAN — Tobacco companies routinely roll out new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products. Competition dictates that they change often to keep customers happy and entice new buyers.
But it hasn’t happened lately. The Associated Press reports tobacco companies have only introduced a few new products in more than 18 months because the federal government has prevented them from doing so.
The AP says it’s unprecedented since dozens of new products are introduced each year. It reflects the industry’s uneasy relationship with the Food and Drug Administration which began regulating tobacco in 2009.
The FDA says it’s just being cautious and wants to be assured that new products don’t also pose new health risks. The tobacco industry, however, says cigarettes haven’t changed much in 50 years and the delays don’t make sense.