Tobacco-Free Kids Applauds U.S.… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Tobacco-Free Kids Applauds U.S. Reps. Platts & Meehan for Leadership in Chairing Congressional Task Force on Tobacco and Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President And William V. Corr, Executive Vice President Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
February 13, 2003

Washington, D.C. — We applaud U.S. Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA) for his continuing service as co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Tobacco and Health and Representative Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) for becoming the newly appointed co-chair of the Task Force. Representatives Meehan and Platts have shown real leadership and commitment to protecting our kids from tobacco and reducing the terrible toll that tobacco use takes in health, lives and money. We look forward to working with them on legislation that will protect kids and save lives.

Representatives Meehan and Platts and the Congressional Task Force have a critical role to play in enacting legislation to curb the tobacco industry's harmful practices. First, Congress should enact legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration effective authority over the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The FDA should have the authority to stop tobacco marketing and sales to children and subject tobacco products to the same consumer protections, such as ingredient disclosure, product regulations, and truthful packaging and advertising, that apply to other products. We also encourage Congress to pass legislation that would crack down on Internet sales of cigarettes to children and help smokers quit by providing insurance coverage for smoking cessation therapies and strategies to decrease the number of smokers.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in our country, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Tobacco use costs our nation more than $75 billion a year in health care costs. And the problem begins with kids – 90 percent of smokers start as teens or earlier. Every day, another 2,000 kids become regular smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result. Representatives Meehan and Platts have stepped up to the plate in addressing this public health crisis.