Tuesday, June 17, 2008

FDA Tobacco Bill Support Continues to Crumble; Local Anti-Smoking Group Announces Opposition to Bill and Urges Constituents to Oppose the Legislation

In a sign of the continuing disappointment of the tobacco control community over the many loopholes and weaknesses that are present in the FDA legislation because the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids sold out the public's health to obtain the support of Philip Morris, another tobacco control group has today announced its opposition to the legislation and issued an action alert urging its members to vigorously oppose the bill.

In an action alert sent out today, Arizonans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANSR) expressed opposition to the legislation and urged its constituents to write to the entire Arizona Congressional delegation in opposition to the bill.

Among the many concerns expressed by ANSR were the fact that the FDA is already under-funded and over-extended and has enough trouble just regulating the nation's prescription drug supply. In addition, ANSR is concerned about a possible chilling effect that the legislation might have on state and local tobacco control efforts. Furthermore, ANSR opposes the bill's menthol exemption, which it says is proof of Philip Morris' influence on the legislation.

The action alert concludes: "S.625/H.R.1108 is seriously flawed and must be defeated. It has already passed committees in both the House and Senate. Phone calls and letters are needed immediately urging Senators and Representatives to vote "No" on S.625/H.R.1108."

The Rest of the Story

The coalition of support for the FDA tobacco legislation continues to crumble as the truth about the legislation is gradually revealed to the public. It is quite clear that the tobacco control community does not support the crafting of a piece of tobacco control legislation by negotiating with Philip Morris to see what the nation's leading tobacco company is willing to support. As groups are becoming aware that the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids negotiated this legislation with Philip Morris and made numerous concessions to protect Big Tobacco profits, they are gradually withdrawing their support for the bill and moving over to the opposition side.

This is what happens when one organization presents itself as the sole representative of the tobacco control community and takes it upon itself to sit down at the negotiating table with Philip Morris to hammer out legislation that the nation's leading cigarette company can support. Essentially, what the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has done is to hammer this legislation down the throats of the entire tobacco control community. While it has taken a long time for the groups to come to this realization, it is now happening rapidly and these groups are not taking it any longer.

I congratulate ANSR for having the courage, insight, skilled policy analysis, and principle to take the high road and oppose this legislation, which provides special protection to Big Tobacco and institutionalizes tobacco use and the defrauding of American consumers by the government itself.

I know that many more local tobacco control groups feel the same way and it is only a matter of time before they join ANSR, NAATPN, AAPHP, and other groups which stand against Philip Morris and its allies at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Medical Association.

No comments: