216,000 U.S. Kids Face Father's Day… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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216,000 U.S. Kids Face Father's Day Without Dads Who Have Lost Their Lives to Tobacco

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June 13, 2001

Washington, DC — On this Father's Day, 216,000 kids in the U.S. will be without fathers because their fathers have lost their lives to tobacco, according to new data released by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. This data was developed by University of California-Davis Professor of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine Bruce Leistikow.

This new data, based on Professor Leistikow's published research on the number of kids nationwide who have lost parents to smoking deaths and qualified for Social Security Survivors Insurance payments, shows that each year another 30,000 kids under 18 lose a dad to smoking-caused disease. Altogether the children of fathers who have died because of smoking-caused disease receive federal SSSI payments totaling approximately $1.5 billion per year.

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90,000 men age 35 or older die each year from smoking-caused heart disease, and about 40 percent are between the ages of 35 and 64. About 80,000 more die each year from smoking-caused lung cancer. Smoking kills more fathers than alcohol, murder, suicide, illegal drugs, AIDS, traffic accidents, and fires combined.

The CDC estimates that smoking-caused deaths among men each year eliminate more than 3.1 million years of potential life, with more than 730,000 of those lost years of life occurring before the age of 65.

Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign, called on Congress to do more to protect men and their families from the harm caused by tobacco.

'The data we are releasing today reminds us of the devastating toll that tobacco takes on our kids and families and shows that tobacco affects many more people than those who smoke,' Myers said. 'One of the best things a Member of Congress can do to protect the health of America's families is to sign on to legislation to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effective authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The FDA should have the authority to restrict tobacco industry practices that have caused so much harm.'

Bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate to give the FDA effective authority over tobacco. These are H.R. 1097 by Reps. Ganske, Dingell and Waxman, and S. 247 by Sens. Harkin, Chafee and Graham. Rep. Waxman has also introduced a separate bill, H.R. 1043.

These bills would allow the FDA to restrict tobacco marketing to protect the public health, including those forms of marketing that have the greatest appeal to children, and would dramatically curtail illegal tobacco sales to children. It would also apply to tobacco the same basic public health standards that apply to other products. It would allow the FDA to require tobacco companies to reduce or eliminate harmful components found in tobacco products and smoke, require independent scientific testing of products and health claims, and prohibit or restrict health claims that are unsubstantiated or harm public health.

The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS opposes FDA legislation introduced by Sen. Frist, S. 190. The bill contains many loopholes, hurdles, and restrictions that would likely result in endless delays and massive litigation, rather than swift protection of public health. The Campaign also opposes phony legislation drafted by tobacco giant Philip Morris, which does more to protect the industry's bottom line than to reduce tobacco's cycle of addiction, disease and death.

View 'Father's Day Smoking Data,' summarizing Professor Leistikow's findings and providing statistics for each state.