Thursday, July 26, 2007

Senate Panel Approves Amendment to FDA Bill to Greatly Strengthen Warning Labels; Amendment Passes Unanimously over Objection of Tobacco-Free Kids

Yesterday, on the first day of its mark-up session on S.625 - the FDA tobacco bill - the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted unanimously to accept an amendment offered by Senator Enzi which greatly strengthens the required warning labels on cigarettes. The bill itself required a series of stronger warning statements than currently appear on the packages. The amendment strengthens these warning statements by increasing the size of warning labels from 30% to 50% of the pack and adding color graphics that depict the negative health consequences of smoking. This is similar to warning labels that have been used with some success in Canada. The Senate panel is expected to continue its deliberations on S.625 today, considering more amendments before taking a vote on whether or not to send the bill forward.

Despite the unanimous vote indicating bipartisan support, and the substantial strengthening of the warning label provisions of the bill, passage of the amendment was opposed by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The Rest of the Story

This adds to the embarrassment that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and its partner health groups have endured over the past few days as the truth about the history of, and nature of the FDA bill has come to public light.

Despite unanimous bipartisan support, the only group publicly opposing this amendment, which unequivocally adds to the little public health protection that is offered by the bill, was the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, supposedly an anti-smoking and public health group.

What business does the Campaign have opposing an amendment that simply strengthens the warning labels so that there is at least a chance that they may have a deterrent effect?

It is becoming clear that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has become completely overrun by politics, and in my opinion, by an obsession with the proverbial feather in the cap. So much so that they have lost sight of any responsibility whatsoever to stand up for some principles while claiming to be taking a leadership role to fight to protect the public's health. So much so that their statements have become filled with deception and devoid of substance.

It is getting more and more embarrassing by the minute for the tobacco control groups which are supporting this misguided legislation and which have agreed (albeit tacitly) to follow along with the Campaign's secret deal cut with Philip Morris and its strategy of deception.

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