Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FDA Tobacco Bill Itself Admits that It is a Scam

In passing the FDA tobacco legislation, bill supporters have themselves acknowledged that the legislation is a scam and that FDA regulation does not and will not make cigarettes safer.

In the bill itself, supporters have acknowledged that: "If manufacturers state or imply in communications directed to consumers through the media or through a label, labeling, or advertising, that a tobacco product is approved or inspected by the Food and Drug Administration or complies with Food and Drug Administration standards, consumers are
likely to be confused and misled. Depending upon the particular language used and its context, such a statement could result in consumers being misled into believing that the product is
endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration for use or in consumers being misled about the harmfulness of the product because of such regulation, inspection, approval, or compliance."

The Rest of the Story

In acknowledging that FDA regulation does not and will not in fact make cigarettes safer, the bill's supporters have revealed to us that this is a scam: on the one hand, we are being told that the FDA is going to take the toxic constituents out of cigarettes. On the other hand, supporters have acknowledged - in the bill itself - that FDA regulatory standards will not create a safer product.

Because of this concern that the public might actually believe the bill's supporters that the regulation of the product by the FDA will make it safer, combined with the fact that the bill's supporters understand that what they are telling the public is untrue, the supporters have snuck a provision into the bill which prohibits the tobacco companies (but not politicians and health groups) from even telling consumers that the FDA regulates tobacco products and that the companies are in compliance with FDA standards.

The bill prohibits tobacco companies from "making any express or implied statement or representation directed to consumers with respect to a tobacco product, in a label or labeling or through the media or advertising, that either conveys, or misleads or would mislead consumers into believing, that ... the product is safe or less harmful by virtue of its regulation or inspection by the Food and Drug Administration or its compliance with regulatory requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration."

The bill's supporters have - above - acknowledged that if manufacturers simply state that they comply with FDA standards, consumers are likely to be misled into believing that the products are safer. Thus, the bill effectively prohibits companies from even telling their consumers that they comply with FDA standards.

On top of being unconstitutional as it violates the free speech rights of these companies by prohibiting the communication of truthful information, this provision exposes the legislation for the scam that it is. The bill's supporters have told their constituents and the American public that the bill will lead to the elimination of toxic constituents from tobacco. Within the fine print of the bill, however, they have admitted that the bill will not lead to a safer cigarette and that if cigarette companies even mention to their customers that they are complying with FDA standards, those consumers will be misled.

Is it not also true, then, that the public health groups supporting this legislation are misleading the public by stating that tobacco companies will be forced to comply with FDA standards?

Over time, the public is going to come to appreciate the scam that this really is. Unfortunately, Congress only entertains federal tobacco policy about once every 30 years, so it is very unlikely that they will soon fix the public health mess that they have created.

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