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House Passes Historic Bill to Protect Kids From Tobacco; Senators Webb & Warner Should Cosponsor Legislation

RICHMOND, Va., July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. House of Representatives took a historic step today by passing legislation that would grant 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 and Virginia public health organizations called on Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and John Warner (R-VA) to protect America's kids from tobacco addiction and cosponsor the bill.

"Senator Webb and Senator Warner have critical roles to play in ensuring that strong FDA tobacco regulation is enacted into law," said David DeBiasi, the Director of Advocacy and Public Education for the American Lung Association of Virginia. "The tobacco industry spends $13.4 billion a year marketing its products and more than $438 million in Virginia. We call on Senators Webb and Warner to support 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 more than $96 billion in health care costs each year. In Virginia, tobacco use kills 9,300 residents each year and costs the state $2 billion in health care bills annually. Currently, more than 21 percent of Virginia high school students smoke.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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