Nov. 25 2003
Washington, DC — Congressional leaders appear to have decided to move the omnibus appropriations bill without a tobacco quota buyout. This decision preserves an historic opportunity for Congress early next year to pass comprehensive tobacco legislation that protects the public health by granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration meaningful authority over tobacco products and provides more generous economic assistance to tobacco farmers. Our public health organizations have been committed and remain committed to working with tobacco farmers to achieve these goals.
The recent activity around the omnibus bill has increased the likelihood that Congress will act both to help tobacco farmers and promote the public health. The need for action on these issues has been brought to the attention of Congressional leaders like never before. It is also clearer than ever that the best way to achieve both goals is by building a broad, bipartisan coalition that includes Members of Congress who represent tobacco growers and Members who support meaningful FDA authority over tobacco products. Our public health organizations have demonstrated a strong commitment to help tobacco farmers and have endorsed and worked to pass legislation to do so. We would welcome the opportunity to work with tobacco-state lawmakers to pass tobacco buyout legislation in conjunction with a meaningful FDA bill.
Contrary to some published reports that discussions ended regarding legislation to grant the FDA meaningful tobacco authority, public health groups over the last seven weeks have continued to engage in substantial discussions with members of Congress, and we have made significant progress toward agreement on strong FDA legislation that can gain broad, bipartisan support in Congress. This progress is one more reason for optimism that Congress next year will finally take action to address the nation’s leading preventable cause of death, while also providing much-needed assistance to tobacco farmers.