President Obama Signs Bill Granting the U.S. FDA Regulatory Control Over Tobacco Products

American Lung Association Poised to Help Smokers Quit

(June 22, 2009)

Statement of Stephen J. Nolan, American Lung Association National Board Chair:

Today, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (HR 1256) marking a historic day in our fight against lung disease. Finally, after a two-decade long battle, the American Lung Association can join our public health partners in heralding in the day when tobacco companies can no longer prey on America’s kids with deceitful advertising and candy flavored cigarettes.

FDA oversight over tobacco products will fundamentally change the entire tobacco industry and will save countless lives in the decades to come. Cigarette makers will be required to apply graphic warning labels to the top half of both the front and back of each pack of cigarettes sold. The use of misleading labels such as light and low tar will be prohibited. The FDA will also now have the authority to strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are first scientifically proven and do not discourage smokers from quitting or encourage kids and others to start.

Moving forward, tobacco companies will be required to disclose the contents of their products. The FDA will also be able to call for the removal of harmful ingredients and the reduction of nicotine levels in cigarettes to better protect public health.

The Lung Association recognizes that as these changes are implemented in this year ahead, more smokers will want to seek assistance to quit. The Lung Association has been successfully helping smokers quit for more than 30 years with our Freedom From Smoking program and is prepared for increased demand.

While we are thrilled to celebrate this important public health victory, the American Lung Association recognizes there is still much work that needs to be done. We are dedicated to realizing a smokefree America where people will be protected from secondhand smoke in all public spaces and workplaces. We heartily applaud the twenty-five states and the District of Columbia that have joined our Smokefree Air Challenge by passing comprehensive smokefree air laws.

As the American Lung Association continues to champion for smokefree air laws and increased tobacco taxes, we also encourage lawmakers in Washington to include tobacco control and coverage of cessation services and treatments in any conversations regarding health care reform.

Smoking costs our country more than $193 billion each year and kills more than 393,000 people annually. That is why we will continue our fight until tobacco caused illnesses ceases to destroy families and erode the health of our nation.

Today’s victory in Washington would not be possible without the dedication and bi-partisan leadership of numerous lawmakers and volunteers. We wish to commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) for their leadership and quick action in taking up the Senate-passed version of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (HR 1256).

The Lung Association also wishes to express its gratitude to Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Representative Todd Platts (R-PA), Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) for their tireless leadership and dedication to the passage of this legislation.