Monday, May 16, 2005

Statement by R.J. Reynolds Supports Assertion that FDA Legislation Would Destroy Harm Reduction Efforts

In a May 4 commentary in USA Today, R.J. Reynolds executive vice president for external relations Tommy J. Payne opined that the proposed FDA legislation would destroy any motivation on the part of tobacco companies to develop reduced risk products. Payne suggested that the main effect of the legislation would be to freeze existing market shares, which would of course benefit Philip Morris, the existing market leader.

According to Payne: "USA Today's readers need to know that FDA control of the tobacco industry would extend well beyond efforts to reduce risk and would, in fact, seriously impede future progress along those lines. Passage of FDA-tobacco legislation like that proposed last year would virtually destroy competition in the tobacco industry, including motivation to develop reduced-risk products. It would grant unlimited power to the industry market leader, locking in existing market share trends and the status quo."

The Rest of the Story

Although one must always exercise caution when interpreting public statements from tobacco company spokespersons, this statement from R.J. Reynolds does appear to support the assertion, expressed previously in The Rest of the Story, that passage of the FDA legislation would stifle competition to produce truly reduced risk cigarette products and take away any real incentive for tobacco companies to develop and market products that might actually result in substantial reductions in health risks.

It also supports the assertion, expressed earlier, that the FDA legislation really represents what would better be called the "Marlboro Monopoly Act." This is, above all, not a bill to protect the public's health, but a bill to protect and preserve the financial interests of the nation's leading tobacco company.

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