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Health Groups Launch Ad Campaign Urging Congress to Pass Legislation Granting FDA Authority Over Tobacco Products

Print, Radio Ads Remind Lawmakers Tobacco Industry Hasn't Changed Harmful Practices
July 23, 2002

Washington, DC — Thirty-five public health organizations today launched a national advertising campaign highlighting the need for Congress to pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products. The print and radio ads provide evidence showing that, contrary to the tobacco companies' claims that they have changed, they continue to market in ways effective at attracting kids, to deceive the public about the harm caused by tobacco products, and to oppose measures proven effective at protecting kids from becoming addicted smokers.

Groups sponsoring the ads include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association and American Public Health Association (see end of this release for a complete list).

The print ad features headlines reminding the public of the tobacco industry's long history of deception: 'Nicotine Is Not Addictive.' 'Cigarettes Don't Cause Cancer.' 'We Will Not Market To Kids.' The ad makes three points:

  1. The tobacco companies are not keeping the promise they made as part of the 1998 state tobacco settlement to stop targeting kids. In the two years after the settlement, the cigarette companies increased their marketing by 42 percent, reaching a record $9.6 billion in 2000 – $26 million a day, according to the most recent Federal Trade Commission report on cigarette marketing expenditures. Much of the increase was in retail store marketing effective at reaching kids, include payments to retailers for prime shelf space that makes cigarettes more visible to kids, discount promotions such as 'buy one, get one free' that make cigarettes more affordable to kids, and free gifts such as hats and mini-radios that appeal to kids. Studies have shown that 75 percent of adolescents shop at convenience stores at least once a week, and they are more likely than adults to be influenced by convenience store promotions.

    Previous studies have also shown that the tobacco companies increased their advertising in youth-oriented magazines after the settlement. In June, a California judge fined R.J. Reynolds $20 million for continuing to advertise in youth-oriented magazines, which the judge found to be a violation of the settlement's prohibition on targeting kids.

  2. The tobacco companies are continuing their deadly deception about the harm caused by tobacco use. For decades, they have marketed so-called 'low-tar' or 'light' cigarettes with clearly implied claims that they are less risky than regular cigarettes. But a report by the National Cancer Institute found that these products are just as harmful and the tobacco companies have known this all along.

    The industry is now marketing so-called 'reduced risk products' such as Advance and Omni cigarettes claiming 'All of the taste, less of the toxins' and 'Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste.' Unfortunately, because the FDA does not regulate these products, the companies have not conducted the tests necessary to prove that they actually reduce harm.

  3. While claiming that they do not want kids to smoke, the tobacco companies continue to fight programs and measures proven effective at reducing youth smoking. Philip Morris in April attacked Florida's highly successful tobacco prevention program and asked that the state stop running some of its ads. Earlier this year, the Lorillard Tobacco Company sued the American Legacy Foundation in an effort to shut down its highly effective 'truth' anti-tobacco advertising campaign. The tobacco industry also continues to fight efforts to increase cigarette taxes and pass clean indoor air measures across the country. Philip Morris, for example, has funded front groups that opposed a cigarette tax ballot initiative in Washington state and a clean indoor air ballot initiative in Florida.

The ad's conclusion: 'We need FDA regulation of tobacco because Big Tobacco just won't quit.'

Legislation to grant the FDA effective authority over tobacco products has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives – S. 2626 introduced by Sens. Kennedy (D-MA) and DeWine (R-OH) and H.R. 1097 by Reps. Ganske (R-IA), Dingell (D-MI) and Waxman (D-CA).

These bills would grant the FDA the authority to stop tobacco marketing and sales to children and subject tobacco products to the same consumer protections, such as ingredient disclosure, product regulation, and truthful packaging and advertising, that apply to other consumable products. These common sense protections currently apply to food products made by tobacco giant Philip Morris, but not to the company's Marlboro cigarettes. In other words, the FDA has to approve any ingredient put into Macaroni and Cheese, but the ammonia, formaldehyde and arsenic found in cigarettes are unregulated.

'This ad sends a clear message to our nation's elected leaders: The tobacco companies have not changed their harmful practices and they won't until Congress forces them to change by granting the FDA meaningful authority over tobacco products,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'FDA authority is critical to protecting our kids from tobacco industry marketing and ending the industry's continued deception about its deadly products.'

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people in the U.S. every year. Smoking costs our nation more than $75 billion a year in health care bills. Ninety percent of all smokers start at or before age 18. Every day, 5,000 kids try their first cigarette. Another 2,000 kids become regular, daily smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.

Groups sponsoring the ad are:

Action on Smoking and Health

Allergy and Asthma Network - Mothers of Asthmatics

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

American Cancer Society

American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine

American College of Cardiology

American College of Chest Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Dental Association

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

American Medical Association

American Medical Women's Association

American Public Health Association

American School Health Association

American Society of Clinical Oncology

Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America/The Drug-Free Kids Campaign

Interreligious Coalition on Smoking or Health

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of Local Boards of Health

National Association of School Nurses

National Center for Policy Research for Women and Families

National Education Association

National Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention

Oncology Nursing Society

Oral Health America

Partnership for Prevention

Society for Public Health Education

Summit Health Coalition.

The print ad can be viewed at:

To obtain a copy of the print or radio ad, please contact Nicole Dueffert at (202) 296-5469.