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Family Smoking Prevention And Tobacco Control Act - Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Let me be clear from the outset. Thanks to public information campaigns that have been waged for decades, the 45 million Americans who smoke already know that cigarettes are dangerous. If you smoke, chances are you could die from smoking.

This legislation does little, if anything, to change that. The proponents of the bill say it is public health legislation that will lower the cost of medical care. That is a very noble goal. Everyone is in favor of saving lives and bringing down health care costs.

But this bill will not accomplish that. Instead, it engages in overregulation with no practical effect on smoking rates. The Congressional Budget Office says it would only result in a 2-percent reduction in smoking rates over 10 years and would have a minimal impact on health care savings.

Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking rates are already declining an average of 2 to 4 percent over that same period of time. So according to the CDC, if we do nothing, we will still have a decline in smoking rates equal to or greater than what CBO says this bill will do.

The goal of any Federal tobacco regulation should be to keep children from smoking or using tobacco products and to help adult users stop or, at a very minimum, to use a less harmful product. But the bill does just the opposite. If this bill passes, cigarette manufacturers such as Philip Morris and Reynolds America will be prevented from using the terms ``light'' and ``low tar.'' That means their cigarettes will still be on the market but under different names, not leading to fewer smokers, but leading to consumer confusion.

Just as bad is the overregulation that this bill will put on the already beleaguered tobacco farmer, in effect, helping put those who are left out of business. It would allow the FDA to enter just about any tobacco farm in the country. And it would indirectly require tobacco manufacturers to dictate production methods to farmers. It would also require the development of a new, unnecessary regulatory process at the FDA to set pesticide residue tolerances. This would duplicate a process that already exists at the Environmental Protection Agency. It makes no sense to pile these new responsibilities onto the FDA since the agency is barely able to keep up with its present duties.

Oddly, under this bill, the FDA--an agency that is designed with ensuring the safety of drugs--would be given regulatory authority over an inherently dangerous product.

Again, cigarettes will kill you. We have known that for decades. Even if the FDA managed to cut smoking-related deaths in half, it would still be vested with regulating a product that kills 200,000 people each year.

The American Association of Public Health Physicians has said that even if the FDA has the authority to remove some harmful ingredients in cigarettes, changing the chemical nature of tobacco itself or lowering nicotine levels will not measurably reduce tobacco-related illness and death.

This bill is slated to spend $5.4 billion taxpayer dollars to provide even more Federal regulation which will have no real effect. About a quarter of that money will be raised off the backs of our men and women in uniform, who will be forced into a mandatory thrift savings plan program to pay for yet another Government program that simply does not work.

This legislation mandates TSP participation for new Government and military personnel. This may sound good in theory, but even with an opt-out provision--which the legislation does call for--it is bad policy for our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen, and marines, who, at junior ranks, frankly, earn very little money and are often under 20 years of age. That is why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposes this provision and says if you are going to have any revenue-raising money, it should be an opt-in provision with respect to TSP for our military men and women.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the letter from Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, we may not like smoking, and we should do everything we can to keep cigarettes away from children. But adults in this country have a choice, and many of them, aware of the inherent dangers, still choose to smoke. Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on an ineffective program to convince them otherwise, while regulating our farmers out of business, and taking away more of our troops' paychecks, is not good policy. It is more shortsighted government.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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