May 1, 2019

FDA clears Philip Morris' tobacco alternative device iQOS

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday cleared Philip Morris' iQOS, a new tobacco device designed as an alternative to traditional cigarettes — an announcement that falls smack-dab in the middle of a swelling push to control the fallout from Juul, another cigarette alternative.

Driving the news: The iQOS — which heats up sticks of tobacco instead of burning them — is in existence largely for the same reason as e-cigarettes. The FDA said it was cleared because "the products produce fewer or lower levels of some toxins than combustible cigarettes" and "IQOS users may be able to completely transition away from combustible cigarettes."

Yes, but: The effort to curb the teenage vaping epidemic has momentum largely thanks to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

  • The FDA said that it has put strict marketing rules in place to prevent youth use of the new iQOS device.
  • It also made clear that the product is not "approved," as "all tobacco products are potentially harmful and addictive."

Meanwhile: Yesterday, a bipartisan group of both House and Senate members introduced a bill to raise the federal smoking age to 21.

  • One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Diana DeGette, took a shot at previously introduced legislation. "Unlike other bills drafted by the industry, our bill has no special-interest carve-outs or limitations on state and local governments," she said in a statement.
  • One such proposal, announced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has come under fire for being tobacco-friendly, Politico reported.

Go deeper: Read the FDA's formal vaping proposal

— Correction: An earlier version of this story said McConnell has introduced a bill to raise the federal age limit for buying tobacco. He has announced that proposal but has not yet introduced it as a bill.

Go deeper

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.