From: American Thoracic Society News Alert for June 11, 2009
In a move that will fundamentally redefine the way the United States
regulates tobacco, today the Senate passed the Family Smoking Prevention and
Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1256) by a vote of 79 to 17. This legislation
grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the
marketing of tobacco products, specifically marketing designed to mislead
consumers or recruit underage smokers.
“It is time that attention is drawn to the long time, intentional
targeting of children by the tobacco industry,” said John Heffner, M.D.,
past president of the ATS. “We have too long tolerated the industry’s
efforts to cultivate smokers at a young and vulnerable age to guarantee
profit for tobacco producers.”
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act grants the FDA the
tools to combat these practices in the tobacco industry and will immediately
reduce the ability of tobacco companies to recruit new smokers and limit the
devastation caused by tobacco-related disease.
“Throughout my career, I have treated many hundreds of patients who
have been devastated by illnesses caused by and related to tobacco
addiction. I have also watched countless family members suffer as a result
of these illnesses,” said ATS president, J. Randall Curtis, M.D. “This
legislation offers us an unprecedented opportunity to stop tobacco addiction
before it starts by allowing the FDA to ensure that tobacco products are not
marketed to children and that the tobacco industry is required to advertise
these products honestly.”
The legislation specifically gives the FDA the authority to:
· Crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to children.
· Ban candy-flavored cigarettes
· Require disclosure of the contents of tobacco products.
· Compel the tobacco industry to research about the health effects of their products.
· Mandate changes in tobacco products such as the removal of harmful ingredients.
· Prohibit terms such as “light”, “mild” and “low-tar” that mislead consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer than others.
· Stop marketing claims that may discourage current tobacco users from quitting or persuade potential users to start.
· Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products.
The House of Representatives passed this legislation by a vote of 298-112
earlier this year.
The legislation will now to go to a conference committee between the
House and Senate to resolve the minor differences between the House and
Senate versions. President Obama supports the legislation and has pledged to
Enacting legislation to give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco
products has been a goal of the ATS since the idea was proposed a decade
ago. The Society’s interest in regulating tobacco is longer-standing. The
ATS and research published in its journals were cited extensively in the
1964 report Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the
Surgeon General, which warned that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard
of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate
Now, 45 years later, legislation has finally been enacted to bring about
that appropriate remedial action.
ATS members have been passionate in the support for enacting this
legislation and have testified before Congress about the ills of smoking and
the need for effective regulation of tobacco products. The ATS has been a
vocal supporter of the bill and has featured the FDA tobacco bill on several
advocacy days and visits with members of Congress. The ATS believes that
enactment of the FDA tobacco bill is the most effective way to reduce
tobacco use in the U.S. and to improve respiratory health.
Contact for Commentary: John Heffner, M.D., Past President of the
American Thoracic Society
Phone: (503) 215-6258
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