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Public Statements

Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act

Location: Washington, DC

FAMILY SMOKING PREVENTION AND TOBACCO CONTROL ACT -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2008)


Mr. DAVIS of Virginia. Four hundred thousand Americans die every year from tobacco-related diseases. That's why we're here today.

For the past 8 years, I've sought to pass legislation like this, giving the FDA authority to regulate tobacco. For the past 6, my good friend and esteemed colleague Henry Waxman and I have partnered on legislation to this end. Today's hopeful passage of H.R. 1108 marks a milestone in our efforts, and I'm honored and proud to be here with him and with the distinguished chairman of the committee to take this vital step in protecting the public health.

In my view, the primary focus of our tobacco control policy should be to stem the flow of new tobacco users. Regrettably, this equates to keeping children away from tobacco since most of the new users are under the age of 18. Among this group, tobacco use has become synonymous with a rugged independence, of a refutation of authority and of an arrogant disregard for one's personal well-being--the traits that many teenagers desire.

How did this most self-destructive behavior, short of actual suicide, take hold in the collective psyche of our young people?

In large part, the marketing tactics by tobacco manufacturers fanned the flames of youthful angst. The entertainment industry added further fuel with innumerable cigarette-smoking heroes on movie screens and on television. If only the Marlboro Man had been holding a slide rule instead of a cigarette.

H.R. 1108 gives the FDA appropriate tools to restrict marketing and access so that children will have less interest in tobacco and less ability to purchase it. Tobacco can be more addictive than heroin, so it is important that the tobacco policy espoused in this legislation also addresses the needs of current users. It calls on the Secretary to closely examine innovative products that would help users end their dependence. I'm hopeful the result will be the expedited approval of cessation products and of a more vibrant market for them. H.R. 1108 also allows for the development of modified risk products.

I urge the adoption of this legislation.


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