Senate HELP Committee Has Historic Opportunity to Protect Public Health and End Special Protections for Big Tobacco

FDA Authority over Tobacco Would Save Lives

Washington, DC (July 25, 2007)

Statement of Bernadette A. Toomey, President and CEO, American Lung Association

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has an historic opportunity today to fundamentally change public health in the United States by passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The HELP Committee will put the tobacco companies on notice that their century of avoiding meaningful, common sense federal oversight is about to end.

As the legislation moves through the legislative process, it is critical that it remains strong and effective.  We encourage Senators to oppose any attempts to weaken or add poison pills to the legislation as it moves forward. 

Earlier this summer, the Institute of Medicine released a historic report.  The report, “Ending the Tobacco Problem—A Blueprint for the Nation,” strongly recommends that Congress enact legislation granting the Food and Drug Administration broad regulatory authority over the manufacture, distribution, marketing and use of tobacco products.  The report finds that current steps at the state and local level alone are inadequate to remedy the tobacco epidemic in America.  Federal intervention is required.  This legislation meets the high standards set forth in the Institute of Medicine report as well as those long established by the public health community for a strong FDA tobacco regulation bill that protects the public health. 

In August 2006, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler correctly concluded that tobacco companies have engaged in a long-term, fraudulent scheme to mislead the American people about the health risks of smoking, the addictiveness of their products, and their tactics for marketing their products to children.  In her decision, Judge Kessler wrote that the tobacco companies have “marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.” 

Unless this important legislation becomes law, the tobacco companies will continue to aggressively market their products to children and lie about the health consequences of smoking.

About the American Lung Association
Beginning our second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or log on to
www.lung.org.