Thursday, April 2, 2009

FDA Tobacco Bill Passes the US House

Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 298-112 to allow the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry. You can read the AP story here.

You can view the roll call on the final vote here. I want to encourage all You're the Cure advocates to take the time to thank their Representative if they voted in favor of this bill.

Below is the statement from the American Heart Association's CEO, Nancy Brown.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that has been a high priority of the American Heart Association for many years. By a vote of 298-112, the House approved the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“FDA tobacco bill”). This bill gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and advertising of tobacco products. Its passage is a great victory for AHA and our volunteers across the country who, together with our friends at the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, has been working tirelessly to urge members of Congress to pass this landmark public health legislation.

The bill will fundamentally curtail Big Tobacco’s ability to target kids -- including banning candy flavored cigarettes; restricting advertising in convenience stores and in magazines widely read by youth; banning advertising near schools; and providing stronger regulation prohibiting sales to minors. Further, it will mandate large, meaningful warning labels, ban misleading terms such as “light” and “low,” and allow the FDA to review health claims made by manufacturers. The bill also provides the FDA with the authority to require manufacturers to remove dangerous additives in cigarettes, and prevents tobacco companies from spiking nicotine levels. Each day, about 3,500 children smoke their first cigarette and this legislation will help reduce youth smoking and smoking-related illnesses. We all know too well the human and economic toll of tobacco – tobacco-related cardiovascular disease alone claims around 150,000 lives every year.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act enjoys broad support by the public health community, the Administration and the public. Over 1,000 groups in Washington, DC and across the country have joined the AHA and others in supporting the bill. In advance of today’s vote, President Obama released an official White House statement expressing support for the bill. HHS Secretary Nominee Kathleen Sebelius also expressed her support for the FDA bill at her Senate confirmation hearing earlier this week. The legislation has been endorsed by former HHS Secretaries Donna Shalala and Tommy Thompson; former Surgeons General Richard Carmona and David Satcher; former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding. Polling has consistently demonstrated broad public support for the bill regardless of favored political party, political philosophy or geographic region.

I want to personally express my thanks and congratulations to our AHA volunteers and staff who have been working literally for years to provide the FDA with this long-overdue clear authority to regulate tobacco products. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to my predecessor Cass Wheeler, who was a passionate leader in tobacco control for many years and to our close colleagues at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

And while it is reassuring to see this strong support coming out of the House, our attention now must turn to the U.S. Senate where we expect the bill to be re-introduced by Senator Kennedy (D-MA) in the near future. We are bolstered by the fact that last year we had 60 Senate sponsors of the bill, including Majority Leader Reid. So while there has been some turnover in the Senate since then, we believe that there is still very strong support for the legislation and we look forward to working with our Senate champions to move the bill to the President’s desk.

With today’s vote, we have made a significant step toward passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which will have a dramatic impact on saving lives and advancing the mission of the American Heart Association. Please check out this AHA mention in the AP story attached.



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