U.S. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Grant the FDA Authority over Tobacco

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

Feb. 6 2001

Washington, DC — Today, Senators Harkin, Chafee and Graham have introduced the first strong, bipartisan bill in the 107th Congress to reinstate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authority over tobacco.

The Supreme Court made it clear last year in its decision on FDA tobacco regulation that the obligation to protect our kids and the public from tobacco falls squarely on Congress. Congress should enact the strongest possible law granting the FDA authority over tobacco products, just like it has over all other food and drug products. Senators Harkin, Chafee and Graham have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to protecting kids and the public from the harms caused by tobacco. We support the bill introduced today as a positive step toward achieving this goal. This is the first bill introduced this year that accomplishes these vital public health goals.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing our nation $89 billion in health care expenditures each year. Tobacco causes nearly one out of every three deaths from cancer, one out of every five deaths from heart disease and 87 percent of lung cancer cases. Nearly 90 percent of all smokers began as kids. Effective FDA regulation of tobacco is critical to protecting our kids and reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco.

It is also important to note that this bill reflects the views of the American public. A poll conducted for the CAMPAIGN last year shows that, by a three to one margin (75 percent to 22 percent), voters want Congress to pass a bill that would give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. This support crosses all geographic, demographic, gender, and political lines, with majorities of voters in every region, age bracket, income group, education level and political party favoring FDA regulation.

The new Congress and Administration should heed this bipartisan call to action and join in protecting America's kids from tobacco.

 

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