Congressional Support Grows for FDA Regulation of Tobacco: Bill Now Sponsored by 55 Senators, 200 Representatives

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

Oct. 2 2007

Washington, D.C. — As the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health prepares to hold a hearing Wednesday on legislation to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products, bipartisan support for this legislation continues to grow in Congress. The legislation (H.R. 1108, S. 625) now has the support of 55 sponsors in the Senate and 200 sponsors in the House. This bipartisan support from both political parties and both sides of the Capitol demonstrates that Congress has the votes to pass this legislation this year.

This legislation has the strong support a broad coalition of public health, faith and other organizations, the American people, and leading scientific experts:

  • This legislation has the support of every major national public health organization and more than 500 public health, faith and other organizations across the country. View list (PDF, 29KB).
  • According to a recent national poll, 70 percent of voters support Congress passing the legislation and 72 percent believe passage of the legislation would be an important accomplishment for Congress. The poll also shows FDA regulation of tobacco is supported across political lines, geographic regions and even by a majority of smokers (View detailed poll results).
  • Recent reports by the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM), a unit of the National Academy of Sciences, and the President’s Cancer Panel endorsed FDA regulation of tobacco as a critical element of a comprehensive national strategy to eliminate tobacco use as a significant health problem in the United States.

By enacting this legislation into law, Congress can seize a truly historic opportunity to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save countless lives. There are few actions Congress can take that would make a bigger difference for our nation’s health. Every day another 1,200 Americans die from tobacco use and more than 1,000 children become new regular smokers.

Tobacco use is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death, killing more than 400,000 people and costing more than $96 billion in health care bills each year. Despite all the death and disease they cause, tobacco products are virtually unregulated to protect consumers’ health. This continuing lack of regulation allows the tobacco companies to market their deadly products to our children, deceive consumers about the harm their products cause and resist even the most minimal steps to make their products less harmful.

Among other things, the legislation would grant the FDA authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids; require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of tobacco products and reduce or remove harmful ingredients; stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about the health risks of their products; and require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products. We urge both the Senate and the House to quickly enact this legislation into law and to reject all efforts to weaken it.

 

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