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Tobacco-Free Kids Mourns Passing of Michael Pertschuk, a Giant in the Fight for Consumer Protection and Against the Tobacco Industry

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
November 17, 2022

Washington, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is deeply saddened by the death of Michael “Mike” Pertschuk, the former Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission who for decades was an absolute giant in fighting for consumer protection and against the tobacco industry. Few have done more to reduce tobacco use in the United States and to galvanize and empower the tobacco control movement than Mike Pertschuk. Mike was also one of the world’s great pioneers in citizen advocacy. He empowered not just the tobacco control movement, but a whole bunch of good guys to take on some of the most powerful special interests.

As a staff member in the U.S. Senate, Mike was the chief strategist behind major consumer protection and health promotion legislation. He drafted the legislation that required cigarette warning labels and banned cigarette advertising on television and radio. In 1977, President Carter appointed him Chair of the Federal Trade Commission. Despite a growing tide of anti-regulatory fervor, he arguably became the most aggressive Federal Trade Commission chair in history and pursued powerful preventive health measures, including a proposed ban on advertising targeted at children.

After leaving the FTC in 1984, he teamed with the late David Cohen, former President of Common Cause, and Kathleen Sheekey to create the Advocacy Institute, which worked to strengthen the capacity of citizen groups to advocate for policies in the public interest. In 1987, Mike developed the Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center (SCARC) within the Institute to provide guides, training and other resources to broaden the tobacco control movement. He also helped build the global tobacco control movement. His valued counsel empowered organizations and individuals at the local, state, national and international levels.

Mike Pertschuk is a hero, mentor and friend for so many of us and we will miss him greatly. We send our deepest condolences to his family.

Read the obituary for Michael Pertschuk.