FDA tobacco regulation - bill distorted in current form..

November 5, 2008 - American Association of Public Health Physicians against passage of the FDA's regulation of tobacco products in current form..

New England Journal of Medicine: Correspondence, Volume 359:2070-2071, November 6, 2008, Number 19

FDA Regulation of Tobacco
To the Editor: In 1998, Mark Berlind, chief legislative counsel of Philip Morris, drafted specifications for regulation of tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would ensure the continuing profitability of the Marlboro brand, provide a shield against litigation, and protect cigarettes from competition from less-toxic, smokeless tobacco products.1 The current Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1108/S. 625) discussed by Brandt in his Perspective article (July 31 issue)2 was negotiated between Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Mr. Berlind3 for purposes of securing an FDA bill with full support from our nation's largest cigarette maker. The text conforms to Mr. Berlind's 1998 specifications.

Despite the optimistic wording of the summaries used to attract endorsement and sponsors, we 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. It can protect cigarettes or it can protect the public's health. It cannot do both.

Joel L. Nitzkin, M.D., M.P.H.
American Association of Public Health Physicians
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008-1842

1. Berlind MH. Tobacco regulation strategy recommendations. Philip Morris Company draft specifications for FDA regulation of tobacco products. October 1998. (Accessed October 17, 2008, at http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/bku63c00.)
2. Brandt AM. FDA regulation of tobacco -- pitfalls and possibilities. N Engl J Med 2008;359:445-448. [Free Full Text]
3. Mullins B. How Philip Morris, tobacco foes tied the knot. [CTFK and PM collaborating on FDA legislation to regulate tobacco.] Roll Call. October 5, 2004. (Accessed October 17, 2008, at http://www.rollcall.com/issues/50_39/news/7035-1.html.)