Sep. 23 1996
Washington, DC - A recent statement by U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford (D-KY) minimizing the health effects of tobacco use by children prompted a sharp response from a national organization dedicated to the issue. In stating his opposition to the Food and Drug Administration rule announced Aug. 23 by President Clinton to reduce youth tobacco use, Sen. Ford stated, "It’s like calling the FBI for a speeding ticket." He was quoted in The Hill, a national publication covering Capitol Hill. In a letter to Sen. Ford, Matthew Myers, executive vice president of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, wrote: "Three thousand kids start smoking, for keeps, each day in America. Fully one-third of these kids will die prematurely as a result of their addiction… The loss of these lives cannot be blithely compared to a speeding ticket." The FDA rule to limit the sales and marketing of tobacco products to children aims to cut teen smoking in half in seven years. "Despite the fact that you come from Kentucky, I hope you put the health of our children at the top of your priority list and reconsider your position on the FDA rule in light of the facts concerning tobacco and kids," Myers wrote. According to Common Cause, Sen. Ford received more than $76,000 in tobacco industry contributions from 1986-1995, making him the Senate’s second highest recipient of tobacco PAC money. He was also one of 32 Senators who signed a letter last December opposing the FDA proposal. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest private initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids. The campaign's 100+ member organizations include the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals and National PTA.