Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Comment on CBS Evening News Story on the Tobacco Legislation

The CBS Evening News story on the FDA tobacco legislation is here.

My quote focused on one of the largest loopholes in the bill: the fact that it asks FDA to reduce levels of nicotine in cigarettes, but not to remove the nicotine. This is actually going to be hazardous to the public's health because when you reduce nicotine levels, smokers increase their consumption to maintain their nicotine dosage. This leads to increased tar delivery and therefore greater health damage.

In addition, the bill institutionalizes nicotine in cigarettes, ensuring that cigarettes will always remain addictive and that the FDA will never be able to address the addictive nature of cigarettes.

"We will never be able to get rid of the addictive nature of tobacco because we are now forced to retain the nicotine. That is a tremendous victory for Philip Morris and for Big Tobacco."

Importantly, the segment noted that Philip Morris helped craft the legislation, which explains this and numerous other loopholes that limit FDA's authority and make the bill worthless: "Indeed, Philip Morris is a staunch supporter of the bill, and even helped write it."

The Rest of the Story

The rest of the story is that the FDA legislation does exactly the opposite of what health groups say it will do. Instead of protecting the next generation of children from addiction to cigarettes, it ensures that future generations of kids will continue to become addicted to cigarettes because the nicotine will always be present in these products.

While the bill is a tremendous smokescreen pulled over the eyes of the American public for purely political reasons (so that lawmakers could tell the public that they did something to confront Big Tobacco without actually having to have the courage to enact policy that would make a significant dent in tobacco sales), at least it is gratifying that the truth about the legislation is being revealed: as the CBS Evening News made clear, the bill was crafted by Philip Morris.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' greatest secret is now out. Philip Morris helped craft the bill. And there's no more denying it.

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