Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tobacco research bill clears committee

Rep. Bechler
Research of smokeless tobacco products like snus and snuff would get some assistance under a bill that cleared a House committee today.

House Bill 83, sponsored by House Agriculture and Small Business Chair Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, would expand the state’s definition of reference tobacco— tobacco products made by manufacturers specifically for research and not for public use—to include smokeless tobacco products like snuff and snus when the products are labeled specifically for tobacco-health research and experimental purposes. Current state law limits the definition of reference tobacco to cigarettes.

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration after being approved by the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee.

The bill coincides with the University of Kentucky-based Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center’s application for federal funding to research four types of smokeless tobacco products including snus, center director Orlando Chambers told the committee today. The Federal Drug Administration is expected to announce recipients of the funding next month.

“This is something that is viewed positively both by the industry as well as regulators,” said Chambers. “I think it’s a very positive thing for the University of Kentucky and something that is certainly beneficial for our program to bring in that kind of federal funding.”

Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, asked why HB 83 only allows state public universities to participate in the research. “Why not state colleges and universities that have the appropriate facilities? It seems like we’re potentially limiting what might happen in the state of Kentucky,” he said.

McKee said no other universities or colleges in the state besides UK have expressed an interest in applying for such research, calling the research “unique.”

Chambers said he would not be opposed to other universities’ participation.