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Senators Feinstein, Boxer vote to protect kids from tobacco

Posted: June 11, 2009 2:49 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2009 2:45 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON -- The Campaign for  Tobacco-Free Kids applauds U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for voting this week to approve historic legislation that gives the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and  sales to kids.

The U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan bill 79 to 17. The House has approved similar legislation, and Congress is expected to quickly send a final bill to President Obama, who is eager to sign it into law. Both California senators co-sponsored the legislation.

"Senators Feinstein and Boxer have been leaders in this historic effort to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives," said  Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "This legislation represents the strongest action Congress has ever  taken to reduce tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. If effectively implemented, this legislation will  significantly reduce the number of children who start to use tobacco,  the number of adults who continue to use tobacco and the number of  people who suffer and die as a result."

FDA regulation of tobacco products is an essential step toward improving health and reducing health care costs in the United States. Tobacco use  kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs the nation $96 billion in  health care bills each year.

Every day, more than 3,500 U.S. kids try  their first cigarette. Yet tobacco products have been exempt from the  FDA's common-sense regulations that apply to virtually every other product we consume, from food to drugs to cosmetics.

This legislation grants the FDA the authority and resources necessary to  regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.

Among other things, it will:
-- Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
-- Stop illegal sales of tobacco products to children.
-- Require large, graphic health warnings that cover the top half of the front and back of cigarette packs.
-- Ban misleading health claims such as "light" and "low-tar" and strictly regulate all health claims about tobacco products to ensure they are scientifically proven and do not discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
-- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, as well as changes in products and research about their health effects.
-- Empower the FDA to require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients or the reduction of nicotine levels.
-- Fully fund the FDA's new tobacco-related responsibilities with a user fee on tobacco companies so no resources are taken from the FDA's current work.

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