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Senators Harkin and Grassley Vote to Protect America's Kids from Tobacco
Date:6/11/2009

WASHINGTON, June 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds U.S. Senators Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley for voting today to approve historic legislation that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids. The U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan bill 79 to 17. The House has approved similar legislation, and Congress is expected to quickly send a final bill to President Obama, who is eager to sign it into law.

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

Both Iowa senators have been strong supporters of this legislation.

Senator Harkin, a longtime leader in the fight to protect children from tobacco, 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, including measures to reduce tobacco use.

During debate on the Senate bill, Senator Grassley voted against every effort to weaken or delay the bill. His leadership on every vote was critical to ensuring that the Senate passed a strong final bill.

"Senators Harkin and Grassley have been leaders in this historic effort to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "This legislation represents the strongest action Congress has ever taken to reduce tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. If effectively implemented, this legislation will significantly reduce the number of children who start to use tobacco, the number of adults who continue to use tobacco and the number of people who suffer and die as a result."

FDA regulation of tobacco products is an essential step toward improving health and reducing health care costs in the United States. Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, more than 3,500 U.S. kids try their first cigarette. Yet tobacco products have been 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 grants the FDA the authority and resources necessary to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. Among other things, it will:

  • Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
  • Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
  • Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs.
  • 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.

For more information on the legislation and state-specific statistics on the toll of tobacco, please visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.


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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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