KENNEDY, WAXMAN, CORNYN, AND DAVIS INTRODUCE TOBACCO LEGISLATION
Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Senator John Cornyn, and Representative Tom Davis introduced the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Smoking remains the number one preventable cause of death in America and thousands children have their first cigarette every day. This legislation will give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products in order to keep tobacco manufacturers from enticing young people to smoke and to assist current smokers in quitting. Also in attendance today to support the bill were Matt Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Dan Smith, President of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Paul Billings, Vice President of National Policy and Advocacy for the American Lung Association and Neil Meltzer, Chairman of Advocacy Coordinating Committee, American Heart Association.
Senator Kennedy said, "Congress cannot in good conscience allow the federal agency most responsible for protecting the public health to remain powerless to deal with the enormous risks of tobacco, the most deadly of all consumer products. Health experts believe this legislation is the most important action Congress could take to protect children from this deadly addiction."
Congressman Waxman said, "The days of Congress doing the bidding of the tobacco industry are over. This long overdue legislation would give FDA broad powers to regulate tobacco products and protect public health."
Senator Cornyn said, "Smoking and the consumption of tobacco products is a private decision, but it carries with it serious and significant public consequences. In my home state of Texas alone, in 2004, we spent a total of $5.831 billion in medical costs, and a total of $1.62 billion in direct Medicaid costs to pay for smoking-related illnesses. Clearly, we can and must do more to address this serious problem."
Congressman Davis said, "For too long our nation's tobacco policies have been little more than smoke and mirrors; this legislation will breathe new life into our efforts to reduce tobacco related disease and death. Our bill will reduce the number of new tobacco users by keeping cigarettes away from kids. It will give current smokers more tools to quit by speeding cessation products to market. It also opens the door for truly effective "reduced risk" options for those who have been unable to quit using tobacco altogether. Finally, this legislation focuses on tobacco producers, not farmers. We take careful steps to ensure tobacco farmers are able to grow their crops as they deem best. With more than 400,000 tobacco-related deaths every year, we cannot continue to pretend the dangers of smoking don't exist. It's time to pass this legislation."
This legislation will give the FDA the legal authority it needs 1) to prevent tobacco advertising that targets children, 2) to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors, 3) to help smokers overcome their addiction, 4) to identify and reduce the toxic constituents of tobacco products and tobacco smoke for those who continue to be exposed to them, 5) to regulate claims about reduced risk tobacco products, and 6) to prevent the tobacco industry from misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.
Chairman Kennedy will convene a hearing on the legislation in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, February 27, 2007.