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Sen. Jeff Merkley Votes to Protect America's Kids From Tobacco

WASHINGTON, May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:


The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for his leadership role in Senate committee approval of legislation that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids. Senator Merkley helped lead the debate in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), which approved the bill Wednesday and sent it to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Merkley is also a co-sponsor of the legislation, S. 982, and successfully offered an amendment to make it a priority for the FDA to investigate the sale and marketing of new, candy-like smokeless tobacco products, called Camel Orbs, which are being test-marketed in Portland, Oregon; Columbus, Ohio; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thanks to Senator Merkley's leadership, we are a critical step closer to enacting this historic legislation to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives. We look forward to working with Senator Merkley to bring this bill before the full Senate and enact it into law in the near future. FDA regulation of tobacco products, the nation's number one cause of preventable death, is an essential step toward improving health and reducing health care costs in the United States.

This legislation has strong, bipartisan support in Congress and across the nation. The House of Representatives on April 2 voted 298-112 to approve similar legislation. It has been endorsed by more than 1,000 public health, faith, medical and other organizations (see list at A poll last year found that 70 percent of American voters support FDA regulation of tobacco products (see details at It has been endorsed by scientific authorities including the Institute of Medicine and the President's Cancer Panel.

Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, more than 1,000 children become new regular smokers. Yet tobacco products are exempt from the FDA's common-sense regulations that apply to virtually every other product we consume, from food to drugs to cosmetics.

This legislation would grant the FDA the authority and resources to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Among other things, it would:

  • Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
  • Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
  • Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco packages and advertising.
  • Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar" and strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
  • Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
  • Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels.
  • Fully fund the FDA's new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA's current work.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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