The fight to stop the tobacco industry’s dangerous hold on our country’s health is ever-changing and demands strong, comprehensive public policy change.
World No Tobacco Day
Today is an important day in the world of global health and tobacco control the World Health Organization's World No Tobacco Day. It's a day to highlight the devastating toll tobacco products continue to have on people's health across the world, and a day to advocate for policies that we know help people quit smoking and keep kids from ever starting the deadly habit. The focus of this year's World No Tobacco Day is banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Fortunately, Congress in 2009 gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products, including the ability to restrict tobacco advertising and promotion. Today, tobacco companies are no longer allowed to sponsor sporting events and concerts, or to distribute free samples of their products or branded non-tobacco merchandise in the United States. As the fourth birthday of this historic law approaches, I want to commend the FDA for these significant steps forward, as well as others they've taken in addressing tobacco control in our country. However, what we're noticing is that despite these advertising restrictions being upheld in court, tobacco companies like R.J. Reynolds are once again advertising their products in magazines. We're also seeing many ads for newer products like e-cigarettes, the health effects of which remain largely unknown. A report released by the Federal Trade Commission just last week showed that advertising and promotion by the largest cigarette manufacturers in 2011 went up for the first time in several years. The companies spent $8.4 billion on advertising and promotion in 2011, mainly by increasing the price discounts paid to cigarette retailers and wholesalers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers. As you can see, the tobacco industry continues, as it always has, to push the limits and violate the spirit of the law. Now, as a wide range of new tobacco products are quickly coming to market, it is more important than ever that the FDA take action to ensure that our children are protected from the deceitful tactics of the tobacco industry. ACS CAN urges the FDA to study these new products and regulate their production, distribution and promotion as appropriate. With tobacco use responsible for more than 443,000 deaths in the United States every year, the FDA cannot do it alone. On this World No Tobacco Day, I want to emphasize how important it is for local, state and federal officials to make tobacco control a priority. By enacting comprehensive smoke-free laws, consistently and significantly increasing tobacco taxes and ensuring that tobacco cessation programs are fully funded, elected officials can contribute to the significant progress we've already made to reduce death and suffering from tobacco-related diseases.