WASHINGTON, July 30 The U.S. House of Representatives today took a historic step to save lives by passing legislation that grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority and broad, bipartisan support. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) voted for the bill last August as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Public health organizations called on Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) to join him and cosponsor this life-saving legislation.
"It is critical that Senator Voinovich cosponsor the legislation to ensure the necessary 60 votes to overcome a possible filibuster," said William Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "The tobacco industry spends $13.4 billion a year marketing its products and $724 million in Ohio. We call on Senator Voinovich to join Senator Brown and cosponsor the bill that would grant the FDA authority over tobacco."
Among other things, the legislation would:
-- Crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids;
-- Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products;
-- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products;
-- Grant the FDA authority to require changes in tobacco products, such as removal or reduction of harmful ingredients;
-- Stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about health risks of their products.
Unbelievably, despite all the harm they cause, tobacco products are exempt from basic health regulations that apply to other products, such as food, drugs, and even cosmetics. The tobacco companies continue to take advantage of this lack of regulation to market their deadly and addictive products to our children, deceive consumers about the harm their products cause, make changes to their products without disclosing them (such as secretly increasing nicotine levels in cigarette smoke), and resist any meaningful change to make their products less harmful.
The Senate bill, sponsored by U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), has 57 sponsors and cosponsors. The legislation is also supported by more than 680 public health, faith and other organizations across the country, including every major national public health organization. Regulation of tobacco products by the FDA was endorsed last year by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the President's Cancer Panel. A poll conducted in June found that 70 percent of American voters support Congress passing the legislation.
Tobacco use is the nation's leading preventable cause of death, killing more than 400,000 people and costing nearly $100 billion in health care costs each year. In Ohio, tobacco use kills 18,600 residents each year and costs the state $4.3 billion annually in health care bills. Currently, over 21 percent of Ohio high school students smoke.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids