Senator Wyden and AMA Join Tobacco-Free Kids in Call for New Congressional Hearings with Tobacco CEOs

Apr. 7 1997

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, and the American Medical Association today called on Congress to get the truth by holding new hearings with the CEOs of the major tobacco companies. The call for hearings follows admissions last month by the Liggett Group CEO that raised questions about the veracity of previous statements by tobacco company executives. On April 14, 1994, seven executives from the major U.S. tobacco companies testified before Congress -- under oath -- that their products are not addictive and that they do not market their products to kids. In a recent settlement with state attorneys general, the CEO of the Liggett Group directly contradicted the statements of the tobacco executives. "The tobacco executives, whose statements under oath have been forcefully contradicted by one of their own and apparently by their own documents, must be held accountable for what they do and say," said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a major participant in the 1994 hearings as a member of the House of Representatives. "A new hearing is needed to expose the tobacco industry’s efforts to hook kids on smoking. The public deserves to know the truth, and Congress has the responsibility and the power to make it happen." In addition to seeking a congressional hearing, the CAMPAIGN today called on the Justice Department to step-up its investigation into the possible lies of the tobacco industry executives and for Congress to stand by the FDA rule. The campaign also urged lawmakers to give back tainted tobacco industry political contributions. The CAMPAIGN also unveiled a new print advertising campaign to encourage Congress to hold hearings with the tobacco company CEOs and hold firm on the FDA rule to protect kids from the marketing and sale of tobacco products. The ad will begin running this week in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Roll Call, The Hill, and other national publications. It will also run in the congressional districts of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senate President Trent Lott, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. It will run in a number of other states throughout the country in the upcoming weeks. A copy of the ad follows this release. "It is important that people know what happened in Washington three years ago, and that they express their support for new hearings," CAMPAIGN President William D. Novelli said. "In order to inform and motivate the public, we’re launching an advertising campaign in the hometown newspapers of Congressional leaders who can make a difference. Congress must be made well aware of how important it is to hold the tobacco company CEOs accountable." A survey released by the CAMPAIGN today shows that 61 percent of Americans believe members of Congress should return the campaign money they received from the tobacco industry. Meanwhile, a poll released in March showed that 73 percent of Americans agree that Congress should hold hearings on whether tobacco companies have lied about the health effects of tobacco and marketing of tobacco products to kids. Fully 70 percent of the American public agree the Food and Drug Administration should have the authority to regulate the sale and marketing of tobacco products. "When it comes to tobacco, the American people have very strong feelings about what their representatives should be doing," Novelli continued. "They believe it is time for members of Congress to give back the tobacco money they’ve received, and bring back tobacco executives to answer some tough new questions." "As the courts consider the FDA rule, Congress must protect our children," Novelli continued. "Far from being a time to back down to tobacco, members of Congress need to stand up for kids by affirming their support for the FDA rule. The Justice Department must do its part to get the truth by pushing forward with its investigation of the tobacco executives." Dr. John C. Nelson, a Salt Lake City obstetrician and gynecologist and a trustee of the American Medical Association, said: "Today, the AMA calls on Congress not only to hold a new hearing with tobacco CEOs, but to reject tobacco industry pleas and enticements to pass legislation that would weaken much needed jurisdiction of deadly nicotine – an addictive drug that when you use as directed will kill you." The seven tobacco companies represented at the 1994 hearing were: Philip Morris USA, RJR Tobacco Co., U.S. Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co., Liggett Group Inc., Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp., and the American Tobacco Co. The tobacco polls of 1,000 people each have a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. The poll released today was conducted by Omnitel and took place from March 28 to March 30, while the poll released in March was conducted by TELENATION and took place from March 21 to 23. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation’s attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids. The CAMPAIGN’s 100-plus member organizations include the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National PTA. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS can be reached by e-mail at info@tobaccofreekids.org

 

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