Latest Version of Tax Bill Fails Kids, Protects Tobacco Industry

Statement of William V. Corr Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Oct. 4 2004

Washington, DC — By failing to include Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, the version of the FSC/ETI tax bill unveiled today fails our children and protects the tobacco companies that addict them. This bill would provide billions of dollars to tobacco farmers and boost tobacco industry profits by reducing the price of tobacco, but do absolutely nothing to protect our children from the industry’s predatory marketing practices or reduce tobacco’s terrible toll in health, lives and money. No member of Congress truly concerned about children’s health can agree in good conscience to leave FDA tobacco authority out of this bill. It would be an empty gesture to vote for an amendment to include FDA authority and then support a final bill that does not.

This tobacco buyout in this bill also provides billions of dollars less to tobacco farmers than versions of the tobacco buyout previously passed by the House and Senate. It provides no incentives or assistance to tobacco farmers to stop growing tobacco and shift to other crops. It also removes all current restrictions on how much tobacco can be grown in the U.S. or where it can be grown. The result will be cheaper tobacco, allowing tobacco companies to reduce the price of their deadly products and make them more appealing to children.

There is a better way to protect our kids from tobacco addiction and help tobacco farmers. The FSC conference committee should adopt an amendment that includes the Senate-passed legislation to provide FDA authority over tobacco products and an industry-funded buyout. Congress should not pass any tobacco legislation in this bill unless it includes FDA authority over tobacco. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in our country, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year and addicting another 2,000 of our children every day. How can Congress pass tobacco legislation that would do nothing to protect our children and save lives?

 

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