Jun. 10 2005
Washington, DC — The smoking cessation remedy the U.S. Department of Justice described this week in its lawsuit against the tobacco companies is completely inadequate to help the nation’s 45 million smokers quit or to prevent the tobacco companies from continuing to deceive and addict new smokers in the future. The government’s proposal is just a shadow of the smoking cessation plan recommended by its own expert witness. It is also inconsistent with the powerful case the government has made that the tobacco companies engaged in a decades-long scheme to defraud the American public and market their deadly products to our children. Due to apparent political interference in this case, the Justice Department is now seeking a remedy that protects tobacco industry profits rather than public health.
The government’s expert witness on smoking cessation, Dr. Michael Fiore of the University of Wisconsin, has recommended a 25-year, $130 billion program that would include a national telephone quitline network, universal access to smoking cessation medication and counseling, an extensive media campaign, research and education of medical providers. Until this week, the government gave absolutely no indication that it disagreed with this recommendation. On Tuesday, however, government lawyers suddenly gutted the proposal and called for only a five-year, $10 billion smoking cessation program. Dr. Fiore told USA TODAY that this plan “won’t get the job done.” The government’s current plan is a betrayal of the nation’s 45 million smokers because most of them will not get the help they need in breaking their deadly addiction.
Unless the Administration reverses course and strengthens the remedies it is seeking, it will miss a truly historic opportunity to hold the tobacco industry legally accountable for its wrongful behavior and reduce tobacco’s terrible toll in health, lives and money. We urge the Administration to continue to insist on the strong remedies recommended by its own expert witnesses, including fundamental reform of the industry’s harmful marketing practices; the establishment of well-funded, sustained, nationwide programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit; and financial penalties against the tobacco companies should they continue to addict our children.