November 7, 2008 - Time to make revisions to the Senate's Version of "The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act" (H.R.1108/S.625). On February 15, 2007, Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Tom Davis (R-VA) introduced legislation to grant the FDA broad authority to regulate tobacco products. On July 30, 2008 House of Representatives version of this legislation passed by roll call vote - totals were 326 Ayes, 102 Nays, 6 Present/Not Voting.
We know now that the legislation that the senate will consider represents the results of a negotiation between the tobacco control group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Philip Morris (PM) - the biggest player in the tobacco industry. We worry that the legislation will be flawed because the biggest player in the tobacco industry has been directly involved in writing the bill that regulates their industry.
Mike Szymanczyk now the CEO of Altria, Inc., the parent of Philip Morris Tobacco USA, brags to investors that they are directly involved in this legislation (Remarks, Investor Presentation, 3/11/2008)
As Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) has pointed out, "Poison peddlers shouldn’t get to decide how we as responsible legislators fight the war against their deadly products."
American Association of Public Health Physicians believe that this bill is so distorted in favor of Altria–Philip Morris that, if passed in its current form, it will do more harm than good in terms of future levels of teen smoking and future rates of tobacco-related illness and death.
The bill under consideration would ban artificial flavors like cinnamon and cherry from cigarettes, but strangely gives special protection to menthol. Public health advocates wonder why menthol has been exempted from the bill, especially when it masks the harsh taste of cigarettes for beginners. Seventy percent of African Americans smoke menthols, compared to only 30 percent of whites. African Americans may smoke less than whites overall but they suffer higher rates of cancer and other tobacco-induced diseases. Despite all this, legislators believe that menthol cannot be eliminated as a cigarette flavoring under the bill because menthol is crucial to the $70 billion cigarette market. The watered-down terms resulted from legislators' belief that the bill won't pass without PM's buy-in - NOT TRUE.
PM is already preparing to circumvent the bill once passed by for instance seeking a trademark change for "Marlboro Snus Spice" to a more generic but still evocative trademarks such as "Marlboro Snus Snug Gold." (With U.S. FDA tobacco regulations on the horizon Altria already preparing to circumvent the law..)
PM tells people they are a socially responsible company but then go out and buy cigar maker John Middleton, Inc. famous for Black & Mild cigars (wine being its latest flavor) very popular among young African Americans. While active in the process of writing the bill, PM has its sales force going around to c-stores demanding the majority of prime space behind the checkout counter for their products. We all know the more cigarette-marketing teens are exposed to in retail stores, the more likely they are to smoke, and that restricting these retail marketing practices would reduce youth smoking. Also, all the tobacco advertising in c-stores undermines attempts for adults to quit smoking.
All tobacco products with no exceptions are highly addictive and dangerous to health; as the World Health Organization tells us "Tobacco is Deadly in Any Form or Disguise." This conclusion was recently reinforced by Michael Leavitt, Secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services when he wrote: "Tobacco products are not safe and cannot be made safe and there is no medically established public health benefit associated with tobacco" in a letter to Joe Barton, R-Texas the senior Republican on the Senate's Energy and Commerce Committee. In the legislation all tobacco products must be considered equally.
Many concessions have been granted to get tobacco companies to buy into this legislation weakening the bill even further. UST Inc., the biggest U.S. maker of smokeless tobacco products and the North American unit of Swedish Match AB which also sells smokeless tobacco announced they would support the bill. The bill was amended to give smokeless companies the ability to give away free samples to adults under limited circumstances which hadn't been allowed in earlier versions of the bill. Some small tobacco companies were expected soon to announce they were supporting the House bill. The move comes after they won a promise of changes including extra time before certain regulations would apply to them.(Support Grows for Tobacco Bill By Anna Wilde Mathews, The Wall Street Journal, 4/1/2008) The National Association of Convenience Stores dropped it's opposition to the bill after promised concessions were made which include an agreement that stores found to have sold tobacco to underage consumers could have some fines reduced if they had training programs in place to educate staff about age requirement. (Retailer Concerns Addressed? Group withdraws opposition to House FDA tobacco regulation bill, April 1, 2008)
For Ted Kennedy's sake alone let's have a good piece of legislation that will protect our children for years to come from the ravages of nicotine addiction.
Archive of Supporting Documentation:
AWMA urges grassroots effort to defeat FDA tobacco regulation and SCHIP..
More - Lorillard-Newport - FDA proposed tobacco regulation..
House to Vote on FDA Regulation of Tobacco..
Tax the hell out of all tobacco products until they disappear..
Bush administration opposes legislation to give FDA authoritiy to regulate tobacco products..
With U.S. FDA tobacco regulations on the horizon Altria already preparing to circumvent the law..
Tobacco Update (6/5/2008) presented by Nik Modi, UBS Tobacco Analyst..
Public health experts are questioning why menthol flavoring in cigarettes, received special protection as Congress tries to regulate tobacco..
FDA Commissioner Eschenbach the FDA "clearly has a role" in addressing the public health problem of tobacco..
Lorillard Tobacco opposes US FDA bill to regulate tobacco..
FDA regulation moves a step closer..
On Tuesday April 1, 1970 President Richard Nixon signed a measure banning cigarette advertising on radio and television, to take effect in January 1,
Lack of Credibility - Reynolds American's Campaign to Derail the Federal Tobacco Regulation Bill..
FDA regulatory control tobacco bill is voted forward..
Philip Morris to 'Unleash the Beast'in 2008?
Reject Proposed Legislation That Would Add Responsibility For Tobacco Regulation to the FDA..
FDA Head: 'No' to Tobacco Cigarettes too "inherently dangerous" to regulate; would "undermine mission."
Federal tobacco regulation backed..
On July 18, 2007, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee postponed a vote on the bill - which would for the first time allow..
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