Health advocates are condemning a legislative move made last week by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee that they say will significantly undermine public health by weakening the FDA’s ability to regulate tobacco products.

A rider attached to the agriculture funding bill will exempt some types of cigars from FDA oversight and lessen the agency’s authority to review the health hazards of thousands of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and hookah tobacco.

The American Lung Association (ALA) issued a statement saying it “is deeply disappointed that committee voted today in favor of an amendment that would substantially rewrite the Tobacco Control Act and weaken FDA"s ability to protect the health of the public and our nation’s youth from tobacco products.”

Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the ALA, said the rider was added to this bill “at the behest of the tobacco industry” at a time when e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among kids.

“These dangerous provisions show that too many in Congress are still willing to prioritize Big Tobacco over the health of our nation, particularly young people who will become the next generation of addicted smokers and tobacco users, and whose health will suffer as a result."

American Heart Association (AHA) CEO Nancy Brown warned that exempting certain cigars from FDA regulation could allow tobacco manufacturers to manipulate their products to evade the FDA’s oversight.