Mar. 21 2000
Washington, DC - Although today's ruling is a setback for America's families and children, the Supreme Court has loudly reaffirmed that tobacco is the most significant public health threat facing the nation, especially among children and adolescents. Congress must heed this call to action and immediately pass meaningful FDA regulation of tobacco products as drafted by Senator Bill Frist, endorsed by every major public health agency, and included in the McCain tobacco control legislation debated by the United States Senate in 1998. A bipartisan majority of at least 57 senators supported this legislation, as does an overwhelming majority of the American public. If Congress had exercised its responsibility to protect kids from tobacco products by passing this legislation in June 1998, the Food and Drug Administration would already have full authority to implement its critical program. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration protects the public health by requiring that all food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices - virtually all products we consume or put on our skin - meet minimum health and safety standards. Tobacco needs to be regulated to the same degree as all other products or else millions of consumers are going to continue to be exposed to unnecessary health risks that lead to premature death. Unless Congress acts, Big Tobacco will once again be an unregulated industry that is free to manufacture its products without regard for public health and safety and to market these deadly and addictive products to our children. The courts have now spoken and it is up to Congress to provide this protection for America's families and children.