May. 7 1997
Washington, DC - Individuals involved in public health and tobacco control have raised thoughtful concerns about the ongoing discussions with the tobacco industry and our involvement in them. We share these concerns. We have weighed them carefully, consulted within the tobacco control community, and have decided to continue with the discussions. Our goal is not an agreement at any cost, but rather to seek the best possible outcome, from a public health perspective, if any agreement is ever reached. We have made it clear that our participation in these discussions does not obligate any of our organizations to accept an agreement that may emerge from the talks. If and when a proposal is forthcoming from the discussions, the entire public health community, the American public, and Congress will all have the opportunity to review it carefully, and to determine whether it will serve the public good and whether it warrants support or opposition. Currently, we are communicating with others throughout the public health community to seek input about our involvement and the future of the discussions. Some have charged that we are "advocates for a deal with the tobacco industry." This is not true. We are involved in the discussions to determine what might be achieved in terms of lives saved and children protected from tobacco, and at what potential cost. Attached are core principles agreed to by all of our organizations that guide any discussions aimed at resolving tobacco control issues. There have been significant inaccuracies in media reports about our positions and involvement in the talks. We hope these principles help to clarify any misunderstandings. Core Principles for Consideration of the Resolution of Current Outstanding Tobacco Issues Any resolution of the current outstanding tobacco issues -- whether in the Courts, in Congress, or elsewhere -- should be guided by a number of clearly enunciated principles. They include: 1) Regulatory authority: The FDA must have the authority to regulate the manufacture, sale, labeling, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products. 2) Minimum standard: The current FDA requirements governing youth access and tobacco marketing are essential minimum components of any public policy initiative. The agency’s ability to augment these requirements should not be curtailed. 3) Victims’ rights: The rights of victims of the tobacco industry to seek compensation for the injuries they have suffered should not be abridged and the tobacco industry should not be immunized from accountability for its wrongdoing. 4) Public education and tobacco control: A well-funded, effective sustained public education and tobacco control campaign that is protected from political pressure is critical to reducing tobacco use. 5) Preemption: Congress should not preempt state or local laws that are stronger than federal laws, nor should the FDA be preempted from revising the form, content, and placement of the warnings on cigarette packs. 6) Public disclosure: The tobacco industry must disclose its research and studies about the effects of its products, including nicotine, on the human body and the marketing of tobacco to children. In addition to these six principles, it is vital to recognize that there are other issues which are key components of any overall comprehensive tobacco control plan, including items such as increased tobacco taxes, protection of nonsmokers from environmental tobacco smoke, and the role of the American tobacco industry in international tobacco sales.