Ending Big Tobacco’s Quest For Its Next Generation of Smokers Now in Hands of the U.S. Senate

(May 20, 2009)

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

Today in Washington, lawmakers moved one critical step closer to loosening Big Tobacco’s deadly grip on America’s children. The U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) sent the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act S. 982 to the full Senate for its consideration. Passage of this critical public health legislation will provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urgently needed regulatory control over tobacco products.

The American Lung Association thanks Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) for their unwavering commitment to public health. We are counting on their leadership to ensure this legislation finally makes it to the President’s desk in June.

This legislation will provide the FDA with the authority to stop the tobacco companies from advertising to children, making misleading health claims about their deadly products and from manipulating their products to make them increasingly more addictive. FDA authority over manufactured tobacco products will finally allow our nation to begin to take significant steps to reduce the tobacco-caused death toll that claims more than 392,000 American lives each year and results in $193 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity.

The American Lung Association urges the Senate to take up this legislation in early June. Each day Congress fails to act, another 1,100 kids become regular daily smokers. One-third of these children will grow up to eventually die from smoking related illnesses. The time to act has never been more urgent than now.

To learn more about our fight to prevent the tobacco industry from luring the next generation of smokers, visit our website: www.lung.org