American Lung Association Mourns the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy

Champion of Public Health Left Indelible Mark on the Wellbeing of America

(August 26, 2009)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO:

With the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, we mourn the loss of one of our nation’s greatest champions of public health, and one of the most effective and influential senators of all time. 

During his nearly 50 years in the Senate, Kennedy was a tireless champion of health, and was responsible for countless items of legislation that expanded healthcare to children, the elderly and the underprivileged. 

We honor the indispensible role Sen. Kennedy played in legislation that has and will save lives. We will remember, with deepest gratitude his role in passing the State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997, which paid for expanded healthcare for children through a tax increase on tobacco, and as lead sponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a bill signed into law just this year that gives the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products, including how they are marketed to children.

Sen. Kennedy was among the first to tackle the devastating effect tobacco use has on our nation and spearheaded many bills that have since saved millions of lives that would have been lost to tobacco related illness. He was fearless in his pursuit of anti-tobacco legislation and persevered through years of setbacks and heavy pressure from the tobacco industry and the traditionally tobacco-friendly congress.

His list of accomplishments is extraordinary. As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee he was instrumental in the passage of scores of bills that improved the lives of all Americans. Among them were the National Cancer Act of 1971, the COBRA Act of 1985 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

In recognition of his life-long dedication to the health of the nation, and his support of the American Lung Association, Kennedy was the recipient of the American Lung Association’s President’s Award, in 1995.

The American Lung Association joins the nation in mourning the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, and offers condolences to Sen. Kennedy’s family and loved ones.