When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

Pages

Cigarette Makers Frustrated As Product Approvals Stall

Jan 11, 2013
Originally published on January 11, 2013 7:28 pm

It's been only a few years since Congress granted the federal government the power to approve how tobacco products are made and sold in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.

But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.

The FDA typically evaluates new drugs and other products with a "safe and effective" standard. But Lawrence Deyton, the Center for Tobacco Products' director, says that standard "doesn't work for tobacco products."

FDA Would 'Rather Get It Right Than Get It Fast'

It's Deyton's job to figure out how a public health agency will regulate a consumer product that has proved to be addictive and deadly. Because there's no safe way to smoke, Deyton says, the FDA is using what's called a "population health" standard to evaluate tobacco.

"I sort of think of it as a ceiling of harm," Deyton says. "Things will get no worse, and any changes or new products that come on the market have to be appropriate for the protection of public health, or raise no different questions of public health."

Tobacco companies have not yet asked the agency to approve any new products, but they have submitted more than 3,500 applications for changes to existing brands — changes the companies say are so minor, they don't raise any of those "different questions."

The FDA has not approved any of the applications, some pending for more than a year and a half.

Deyton says the applications are getting the appropriate scientific scrutiny and that he would "rather get it right than get it fast."

Major cigarette makers declined to be interviewed by NPR for this story. But in a petition filed with the FDA, Lorillard, which manufactures the Newport and Kent brands, among others, calls the inaction a "de facto embargo" on new product introductions — one that hampers competition.

Deyton says that's not the agency's intention. "We're absolutely not deliberately trying to slow products from getting to market," he says. "What we're doing is the scientific review that the law requires us to do."

A 'Tough Industry' In Which To Grow

But Jack Russo, a tobacco industry analyst with the investment firm Edward Jones, says the new regulatory framework is likely to slow the pace at which products get to the shelves.

"It's going to be tough really to get any new product through," says Russo, who also notes that the apparent FDA logjam is frustrating for an industry looking to expand as more people quit smoking.

Getting any new product on the market might help a company "outperform the competition a little bit, in what is a very tough industry to grow," Russo says. "So every little bit helps ... but the FDA certainly isn't making it easy on anybody."

For their part, anti-smoking activists believe the FDA hurdle is long overdue.

Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, isn't at all troubled by tobacco companies' "not being able to get their products on the market as quickly as they would like."

The industry's history of innovation "shows us that it tends to make the products more addictive, more appealing and more harmful," McGoldrick says. "And we don't need any more of that."

Some public health advocates would like to see the FDA crack down even harder on the tobacco industry, by banning menthol-flavored cigarettes and imposing tighter restrictions on advertising and marketing, for example.

The agency has tried to mandate harsh new warning labels for packaging, but cigarette makers have challenged them in court.

Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, thinks the FDA should reject all applications for changes to tobacco products.

"If making these changes wasn't ... going to somehow positively affect sales, the companies wouldn't be doing it," Glantz says. "Because they're in business to make money."

Money that is ever harder to make, now that U.S. smoking rates have remained stagnant at about 20 percent of the population for almost 10 years.

The question is whether the FDA's new role can further curtail tobacco use — the leading preventable cause of death in the country.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's been just a few years that the federal government has been in the business of approving how tobacco products are made and sold in this country. The Food and Drug Administration must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco and any changes to existing brands. But the FDA has yet to clear any products under the new system. And NPR's Debbie Elliott reports some cigarette makers are frustrated with a backlog of applications.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: The FDA typically evaluates new drugs and other products with a safe and defective standard.

LAWRENCE DEYTON: That standard doesn't work for tobacco products.

ELLIOTT: That's Lawrence Deyton. It's his job to figure out how a public health agency will regulate a consumer product that's proven to be addictive and deadly. He's director of FDA's new Center for Tobacco Products created by Congress in a 2009 law that gives FDA jurisdiction over tobacco. Deyton says because there's no safe way to smoke, for instance, the FDA is using what's calling a population health standard to evaluate tobacco.

DEYTON: I sort of think of it as a ceiling of harm. Things will get no worse and any changes or new products that come on the market have to be appropriate for the protection of public health or raise no different questions of public health.

ELLIOTT: Tobacco companies have not asked the agency to approve any new products so far, but have submitted more than 3,500 applications for changes to existing brands, changes that the companies say are so minor that they don't raise different questions of public health. The FDA has not approved any of the applications, some pending more than a year-and-a-half. Deyton says, they are getting the appropriate scientific scrutiny.

DEYTON: I'd rather get it right than get it fast.

ELLIOTT: Major cigarette makers declined to be interviewed by NPR for this story. But in a petition filed with the FDA, Lorillard calls the inaction a de facto embargo on new product introductions that hampers competition. Deyton says that's not the agency's intention.

DEYTON: We're absolutely not deliberately trying to slow products from getting to market.

ELLIOTT: But tobacco industry analyst Jack Russo of Edward Jones says the new regulatory framework is likely to slow the pace of getting products to the shelves.

JACK RUSSO: It's going to be tough to get really any new product through.

ELLIOTT: He says the apparent FDA logjam is frustrating for an industry looking to expand as more people quit smoking.

RUSSO: Anything you can get through to the public that could be new might help you outperform the competition a little bit in what is a very tough industry to grow. So every little bit helps, I guess is what I'm trying to say. But the FDA certainly isn't making it easy on anybody.

ELLIOTT: Anti-smoking activists believe the FDA hurdle is long overdue. Danny McGoldrick is vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

DANNY MCGOLDRICK: If it keeps the tobacco companies — yeah, if they're going to whine about not being able to put their new products on the market as quickly as they would like, you know, the history of that, the history of their innovation shows us that it tends to make the products more addictive, more appealing and more harmful. And we don't need any more of that.

ELLIOTT: Some public health advocates would like to see FDA crack down even harder on the tobacco industry with actions like a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes and tighter restrictions on advertising and marketing. The agency has tried to mandate harsh new warning labels, but cigarette makers have challenged them in court.

STANTON GLANTZ: It's not working very well at all.

ELLIOTT: Stan Glantz is the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco. He thinks the FDA should reject all applications for changes to tobacco products.

GLANTZ: If making these changes wasn't doing something that was going to somehow positively affect sales, the companies wouldn't be doing it because they're in business to make money.

ELLIOTT: Money that is harder to make now that U.S. smoking rates have remained at about 20 percent for nearly ten years now. The question is whether FDA's new role can further curtail tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the country. Debbie Elliott, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.