According to a communication sent out by the American Lung Association to its constituents yesterday, the FDA tobacco legislation will put an end to kids becoming the next generation of smokers because it bans the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes.
The email states: "We’re winning against the tobacco companies!"
"On June 22, 2009, the American Lung Association won its long-fought battle against Big Tobacco when President Obama signed legislation into law giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products. Among other requirements, it restricts deceptive cigarette advertising to kids, and bans the sale of fruit- and candy-flavored cigarettes."
"But we still have so much more to do. The tobacco companies will try to get around the new law by saying certain candy-flavored cigarettes are not covered by these restrictions and can still be sold to children. This is not true!"
"That’s why the American Lung Association will not rest until the FDA fully implements this new law and children are no longer targeted to become the next generation of smokers."
The Rest of the Story
The rest of the story is that the American Lung Association is being dishonest and deceptive in this communication to its constituents. First of all, the FDA tobacco legislation does not ban all candy flavorings in cigarettes. It bans all candy flavorings with the exception of menthol. However, menthol is the only candy flavoring that the tobacco industry is actually using to entice and addict kids. When was the last time you heard of a cherry cigarette? How about a pineapple cigarette? While the American Lung Association makes it sound like Big Tobacco has been defeated because they can no longer use candy flavorings to entice kids, the truth is that the only candy flavoring that it was using - prior to the legislation - was menthol and one candy flavoring that it can continue to use after the legislation is ... that's right ... menthol.
So the American Lung Association, and this legislation, has actually done nothing to protect kids from becoming the next generation of smokers. If anything, the legislation has permanently institutionalized the tobacco industry's ability to recruit the next generation of smokers by protecting the industry's ability to use nicotine to make cigarettes powerfully addictive.
If the American Lung Association is honest about not resting until children are no longer targeted to become the next generation of smokers, then it is not going to be resting any time soon. And the FDA legislation brings it further away from, not closer to, being able to take that rest.
The email is also dishonest in stating that "the tobacco companies will try to get around the new law by saying certain candy-flavored cigarettes are not covered by these restrictions and can still be sold to children." It is blatantly false that the cigarette companies will argue that certain cigarettes can be sold to children. I am not aware that the tobacco companies have ever argued that it is legal to sell cigarettes to children. While I am harshly critical of cigarette companies, I would never lie about them in order to incriminate them for something they have not done, or would not do.
The American Lung Association's statement is so full of lies and deception that it really disturbs me. Although I am a long-time support of the ALA, I simply cannot tolerate this degree of deception, dishonesty, and disingenuousness.
Perhaps the most keen understanding of the truth about the FDA legislation comes not from the American Lung Association but from a tobacco retailer in Kansas City, who "notes the irony that the federal government hoped its flavored tobacco ban would protect kids, and yet the most popular cigarette flavor in the world -- menthol -- remains on the shelves."
In light of Philip Morris' recent introduction of Marlboro Blend No. 54 (which ironically came out the same day that the FDA legislation was enacted into law) -- a new full-flavored menthol cigarette -- how can the American Lung Association possibly argue that we're winning against the tobacco companies with respect to flavored cigarettes. The truth is - we're losing that battle badly and the cigarette manufacturers are laughing as they carry their winnings all the way to the bank.