May. 20 2004
Washington, DC — The introduction today of strong, bipartisan, identical bills in both the U.S. House and Senate to grant the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products presents Congress with an historic opportunity to take action this year both to protect public health and to help tobacco farmers. This legislation represents a breakthrough that should make it possible for Congress to pass both FDA tobacco authority and a tobacco quota buyout.
Our public health organizations have been committed and remain committed to working with tobacco farmers and their elected leaders in Congress to pass both FDA authority and a tobacco buyout. If tobacco-state lawmakers are willing to work with the public health community to pass legislation that includes both a tobacco buyout and FDA authority, we can succeed. However, if tobacco-state lawmakers abandon this common agenda and work to pass a buyout without FDA authority, it would be doomed to failure and would not protect public health or help tobacco farmers.
Our public health organizations served with tobacco growers on a Presidential Commission that in May 2001 unanimously recommended a comprehensive tobacco policy to address both the public health problems caused by tobacco use and the unprecedented economic crisis facing tobacco farmers. These recommendations included both FDA tobacco authority and the tobacco buyout. We in the public health community are prepared to do our part and stand ready to work as full partners with tobacco farmers and tobacco-state lawmakers to enact these recommendations into law this year.