Henry Waxman Showed America the True Face of the Tobacco Industry

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Jan. 30 2014

Washington, D.C. – It is a bittersweet epilogue to the recent 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking that Henry Waxman has decided to retire from service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Over the last four decades, no member of Congress has done more to improve the health and well-being of Americans than Henry Waxman. He is, and for 40 years has been, the most dedicated, influential and effective advocate for public health in the House of Representatives.

This relentless fighter exposed tobacco’s decades of deceit. Today, we take it for granted that most Americans understand the truth about the dangers of tobacco use and the deception of the industry. The sea change on smoking in our country wouldn’t have happened without the courage and tenacity of Henry Waxman.

No member of Congress has done more than Henry Waxman to focus public attention on the dangers of tobacco use, to expose the deception of the tobacco industry and to enact laws that reduce tobacco use and save lives:

  • He was the author and the driving force behind the landmark 2009 Family Smoking Tobacco Control and Prevention Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

  • When no one else in Congress dared to take on Big Tobacco, Henry Waxman conducted scores of hearings on the industry. Most unforgettable was the April 14, 1994 hearing when Chairman Waxman put the seven tobacco executives under oath and then each and every one of them proceeded to deny that nicotine is addictive. Other hearings by Mr. Waxman’s subcommittee revealed proof that tobacco companies buried internal research showing nicotine was addictive and that they knew cigarettes caused cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases.

  • In the 1980s, he sponsored legislation that strengthened the health warnings on cigarettes and extended those warnings to advertisements, required warning labels on smokeless tobacco products and advertising, and banned smokeless tobacco advertising on television and radio.

  • He held the first congressional hearing on the hazards of secondhand smoke, in 1986, then authored one of the earliest bills to require smoke-free public areas and workplaces.

America owes Henry Waxman a profound debt. He put the lives of the American people ahead of politically powerful special interests. Many people are alive today because Henry Waxman revealed the truth about tobacco. Many of our children don’t use tobacco today because Congressman Waxman fought to protect them.


 

Watch this video from 2009, when we honored U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman with our Champion Award.

 

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