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JAMA Findings Emphasize Need for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Manufacturing and Marketing

July 08, 1998

Washington, DC - The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS released the following statement on the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 8, 1998)study on racial differences in nicotine metabolism and intake: 'The findings in the new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing that African Americans take in more nicotine per cigarette and clear cotinine more slowly from their body than whites, are significant for the debate on national obacco legislation,' said Bill Novelli, president of the CAMPAIGN. 'The higher exposure to nicotine and thus cancer-causing agents, along with African Americans’ slower clearance of cotinine, may explain their higher smoking-related risks for lung cancer and lower quit rates. This points to the critical need for the Food and Drug Administration to have adequate authority over tobacco products.' 'Together with tobacco industry documents that show the industry has used chemicals like ammonia to alter the speed and intensity with which nicotine is absorbed into the body from tobacco, the findings in these two new studies demonstrate even further the need for FDA regulation of tobacco,' said Matthew Myers, executive vice-president and general counsel of the CAMPAIGN. 'The tobacco industry has probably known about these effects for years; it’s time for FDA to have the authority to keep the public informed about the full effects of tobacco use.' 'The findings on the differential effects of nicotine on black smokers also make even more egregious the tobacco industry’s targeting of minority groups with their marketing efforts,' Novelli said. 'From the concentration of tobacco billboards in minority neighborhoods to advertising campaigns for menthol cigarettes aimed at African Americans, the tobacco industry has targeted groups that we now know may be more vulnerable to the health effects of tobacco use. In light of the 80 percent increase in smoking among black high school students in the 1990’s, the study’s findings accentuate the need for limits on tobacco marketing to minority youth.' 'Full FDA authority over tobacco was a critical component of the McCain bill, which the Senate failed to pass last month,' Myers said.