Tobacco companies seek out new users

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing More than 400,000 people and costing the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing More than 400,000 people and costing the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year. About 90 percent of adult smokers begin in their teens or earlier. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular, daily smokers, and one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. I believe that Congress has an unprecedented opportunity in 2008 to pass life-saving legislation that will finally give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to crack down on the tobacco companies and their new deadly products. A report was issued recently by a coalition of public health organizations titled “Big Tobacco’s Guinea Pigs: How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on American’s Kids and Consumers.” The report highlights how the tobacco companies have manipulated their products to recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction and discourage users from quitting. New products such as R.J. Reynolds’ Camel No. 9 Cigarettes — a pink-hued version that one newspaper dubbed “Barbie Camel” — is marketed directly to young girls. A growing list of products has been marketed with unproven and misleading claims that they are less harmful than traditional Cigarettes. Claims have included “May present less risk of cancer (Reynolds American Eclipse Cigarettes) and “Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste” (Vector Tobacco’s Omni Cigarettes). The best way to Reduce the 1,200 tobacco-related deaths each day is to prevent kids from ever starting to smoke. We need FDA regulation of tobacco products, and we have a great chance of passing this legislation in 2008. This is a call to action for all members of Congress to pass SB 625/HR 1108. Few steps could have a greater impact on our health.

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