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If Philip Morris is Serious About FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products, It Should Endorse the Kennedy-DeWine Bill Now

Statement of Matthew L. Myers President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 18, 2002

Washington, DC — If, as Philip Morris claimed today, there are no significant differences between the Kennedy-DeWine bill to grant the FDA authority over tobacco products and the Davis and Frist bills, why doesn't Philip Morris simply endorse Kennedy-DeWine? Because, despite Philip Morris' rhetoric, there are fundamental differences and Philip Morris knows it.

If Philip Morris is serious about supporting effective, bipartisan Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, it should immediately join the public health community in endorsing the Kennedy-DeWine bill (S. 2626). Instead, Philip Morris today continued to engage in a cynical public relations game that seeks to portray as minor what are in fact fundamental differences in the public health community's approach to FDA regulation and Philip Morris' approach. These differences have life and death consequences: how Congress resolves them will determine whether FDA authority protects our kids and reduces the terrible toll of tobacco or it protects the tobacco industry's bottom line.

The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health groups are united in support of S. 2626, the bipartisan bill introduced in June by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Mike DeWine (R-OH). This bill has already garnered five Republican and 12 Democratic co-sponsors. Philip Morris supports H.R. 2180, introduced by Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and S. 190, introduced by Senator Bill Frist (R-TN).

Among other things, the Philip Morris-backed bills include loopholes that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the FDA to restrict marketing that impacts kids or to require technologically feasible changes in tobacco products to reduce the harm they cause. These bills also include dangerous loopholes in the FDA's oversight of so-called 'reduced risk' products, risking a repeat of the public health disaster caused by the deceptive marketing of 'light' and 'low-tar' cigarettes over the past several decades. The National Cancer Institute has found conclusively that, despite tobacco industry marketing to the contrary, light/low-tar cigarettes have not reduced the harm caused by smoking. We cannot allow history to repeat itself through lax regulation of the next generation of such products.

Philip Morris says it supports passage of 'meaningful, effective federal legislation to grant the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products.' Kennedy-DeWine is that bill. If Philip Morris means what it says, it should endorse Kennedy-DeWine today.