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House Passes Historic Bill to Protect Kids from Tobacco; Senators Bennett & Hatch Should Cosponsor Legislation

SALT LAKE CITY, 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 Utah public health organizations called on Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to protect America's kids from tobacco addiction and support the bill.

"Senator Bennett and Senator Hatch have critical roles to play in ensuring that strong FDA tobacco regulation is enacted into law," said Dr. Susan Morelli, Chair of the American Heart Association. "The tobacco industry spends almost $60 million a year marketing its products in Utah. We call on Senators Bennett and Hatch to cosponsor the bill that would grant the FDA authority over tobacco. It's time for Senator Bennett and Senator Hatch to stand up for Utah's kids and help pass strong FDA legislation."

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 Utah, tobacco use kills 1,100 residents each year and costs the state $345 million in health care costs annually. Despite these alarming numbers, 7.9 percent of high school students in Utah smoke.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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