We hope you will ask your members of Congress to oppose riders that could harm our health, including riders that would give the tobacco industry a free pass. Learn more at Lung.org/nobackroomdeals.
We previously wrote a post about "riders"—a type of amendment that is attached to legislation. As we described, while the name sounds harmless, riders are a huge problem—especially when it comes to protecting our health.
You can think of riders as parasites that special interests try to attach to important bills. Parasites get a free ride at the expense of the host. Parasitic riders are often attached to spending bills behind closed doors after corporate lobbyists have met with members of Congress and their staffs—hence the term "back-room deals." And they come at the expense of regular Americans.
How would they do it? Well, the industry wants to stop a rule from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that gives FDA the authority to protect our health and our kids from e-cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, hookah and other tobacco products.
FDA's rule makes it illegal to sell products to kids or make false or misleading health claims. That sounds like the right thing for FDA to do, doesn't it? The rule also requires the companies to test their products and submit the results, as well as any potential health harms, to FDA. Again, a pretty good idea when you think about products that people are inhaling into their lungs. And, it will require companies to put warning labels on their products.
But because the tobacco industry has gotten away without being accountable to anyone for so many years – thanks in large part to their buddies in Congress – they think they should continue to do so today. And that's what the tobacco industry is trying to do now with not one but TWO parasitic riders.
The first rider being pushed by cigar lobbyists would exempt certain cigars from ALL FDA authority —including cigars that cost as little as $1.00 and come in candy-flavors. It would stop FDA from requiring warning labels on cigars or ensuring that kids can’t buy these cigars in stores.
The cigar lobbyists went to their friends in Congress and convinced them to attach a rider to block FDA from enforcing the entire rule—kind of like a kid who says he's going to hold his breath until his parents give him a third dessert.
The second rider would "grandfather" in all existing e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco and cigarillos under the new FDA rule—which means that the companies would not have to test their products or prove to FDA that the products won't further harm public health. It would also mean 7,000 candy-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars would remain for sale. Indefinitely.
But, you ask, aren't there a lot of really dangerous chemicals in e-cigarettes like diacetyl? Aren't there issues with e-cigarettes exploding and harming people and property? And what about the thousands and thousands of candy-flavored cigars and e-cigarettes aimed at addicting kids on the market now?
Well, yes, you'd be right. But the tobacco industry hates having to show this information, so it's back to their friends in Congress to get another rider.
And that bring us to today. Now you understand why the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and dozens more public health and medical groups are fighting back against the tobacco industry and their buddies in Congress. And you understand why we need your help.
Thankfully, a number of members of Congress have stood up and pushed back against the tobacco industry. Unfortunately, many more need to be persuaded to stand up against the tobacco industry and for the health of our nation and our youth.