Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tobacco Companies Aren't the Only Ones Who Tried to Block Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels

The cigarette companies which recently filed a First Amendment lawsuit are not the only ones to have tried to block the requirement for graphic warning labels on cigarette packs. In 2007, they got help from perhaps the least likely of sources.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids describes the history of the graphic warning label requirement: "Congress approved the 2009 law with broad, bipartisan support. Its sponsors included U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Todd Platts (R-PA), and former U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT). U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) championed the requirement for large, graphic cigarette warnings."

What the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids does not tell the public is that while Senator Enzi championed the requirement for large, graphic warning labels, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids opposed his amendment.

Its press release is entitled "Tobacco Companies Seek to Avoid Telling the Deadly Truth," but the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is itself avoiding telling its constituents the deadly truth by omitting a critical part of the story: the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, along with the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society, opposed Senator Enzi's amendment.

I described Enzi's amendment in my July 2007 post: "Enzi Amendment #4: This amendment strengthens the required warning labels on cigarettes 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. Again, there is absolutely no reason for health groups to oppose this amendment since it merely improves the warning labels."

But as I also described, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids actively opposed Enzi Amendment #4: "Despite claiming to be overwhelmingly interested in saving lives, fighting Big Tobacco, protecting kids from addiction to cigarettes, and ending special protections for the tobacco industry, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (TFK) and three other health groups - the American Lung Association (ALA), American Cancer Society (ACS), and American Heart Association (AHA) - are opposing amendments to the proposed FDA legislation that would greatly strengthen it by allowing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove the nicotine from cigarettes, prohibiting the use of menthol and clove as primary flavorings in cigarettes, and increasing the size and strength of cigarette warning labels."

The Rest of the Story

While the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is now blasting the tobacco companies for issuing a First Amendment challenge that the Campaign argues is solely intended "to fight all efforts to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco," the rest of the story is that the Campaign itself fought to block this very effort "to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco" and is now hiding the fact that it opposed, rather than supported Enzi Amendment #4.

The Campaign may be able to fool most of its constituents, but one thing it can't do is successfully re-write history. The truth shines through all of its charades and propaganda. And that truth is an ugly one: the national health organizations (TFK, ACS, AHA, and ALA) opposed the amendment which was ultimately responsible for the current requirement for the graphic warning labels. Instead of being a leader in promoting the public's health, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids stood instead with Big Tobacco.

No comments: