It’s been ten years since the FDA was given the mandate from Congress to fully regulate the tobacco industry and tasked with the critical responsibility of protecting the health of our nation. And still, the FDA has not fulfilled its mission to reduce the deadly toll of tobacco use.
Congress Can Be Heroes by Cutting Smoking Rates
Did you know that when the American Cancer Society celebrated the first Great American Smokeout in 1976, 37% of Americans smoked? Fast forward to today, and that rate has been nearly cut in half to about 19%. This decline in smoking is in large part thanks to many our nation's lawmakers who have helped to pass legislation that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products, enacted comprehensive smoke-free laws in 24 states and worked to make tobacco products less attractive to purchase through increased taxes. Today, Congress once again has an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the fight against tobacco. Senators Blumenthal, Durbin, Harkin, Whitehouse and Rockefeller have introduced a bill - S. 826, the Tobacco Tax and Reinforcement ActÎ¾ to increase the federal cigarette tax by 94 cents and level the playing field in price with other tobacco products. We know that increasing the price of a pack of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to encourage people to quit and prevent kids from picking up their first cigarette. The proposed 94-cent increase alone would keep 1.7 million American youth from starting a deadly smoking habit and reduce the number of adult smokers by 2.6 million over 10 years. These numbers are staggering, and that's why cancer advocates across the country are asking their senators to support this bill and encouraging their representatives to introduce something similar in the U.S. House. Do you want to make your voice heard? Î¾Ask your U.S. Senators to cosponsor S.826 today!
In addition to the federal legislation, there are other ways lawmakers can help end the disease and death caused by tobacco use. We've had success in numerous states across the country in getting comprehensive smoke-free laws enacted. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans are protected by smoke-free laws, meaning they don't have to worry about dangerous secondhand smoke in bars, restaurants and workplaces. In states that don't have comprehensive smoke-free laws, ACS CAN staff and volunteers are working hard at the community and state level to ensure all Americans have the right to breathe smoke-free air. ACS CAN is also hard at work in every state ensuring cessation programs are adequately funded so tobacco users have access to the tools they need to quit for good. We've made tremendous progress in cutting smoking rates and encouraging people never to start the deadly habit, but there's still more work to be done. Tobacco use remains the largest cause of preventable death in this country, and this Great American Smokeout we're letting our nation's lawmakers know they can make a difference. By increasing the federal tobacco tax we can save lives from tobacco use, save the health care system money and generate some much needed revenue a win-win-win for all.