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Sen. Tom Harkin Votes to Protect America's Kids From Tobacco
Date:5/20/2009

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

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) 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 Harkin, a longtime leader in the fight to protect children from tobacco, helped lead the debate on the bill 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 Harkin is also a co-sponsor of the legislation, S. 982, and is a senior member of the HELP Committee.

Thanks to Senator Harkin'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 Harkin 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.

Senator Harkin has worked to grant the FDA authority over tobacco products for more than a decade, and legislation he has previously introduced laid the foundation for the bill approved today. As leader of the HELP Committee's Prevention and Public Health Working Group, Senator Harkin is currently drafting the prevention and public health title of health reform legislation and has worked to ensure that health reform includes a focus on disease prevention efforts, including reducing tobacco use.

The legislation approved today 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 www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/fda/organizations.pdf). A poll last year found that 70 percent of American voters support FDA regulation of tobacco products (see details at www.tobaccofreekids.org/fdapoll/). 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.


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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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