In addition to regulating a number of aspects of tobacco marketing and manufacturing, the 2009 law requires the FDA to review cigarette or smokeless tobacco products.
An Associated Press review in December 2012 found that the agency hadn't ruled on thousands of those applications for more than a year despite the 90-day review process the industry expected.
A grandfather clause in the law allows products introduced between February 2007 and March 2011 that are similar to those previously on the market to be sold while under review. They can be removed from store shelves if they don't pass muster with the agency. But about 500 products submitted for review since March 2011 are being kept off the market.
According to data obtained by the AP under a Freedom of Information Act request, about 90 percent of the applications submitted to the FDA have been with the agency for more than a year.
The FDA had said the review process was taking so long because the applications from manufacturers lacked the information the agency deemed necessary to complete its analysis.
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.