Ads Plead for FDA Regulation of Tobacco
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Charging that tobacco companies continue to target youths with their advertisements, a coalition of public health groups launched their own ad campaign on Tuesday, urging Congress to let the Food and Drug Administration regulate tob
The FDA has been fighting for the authority, and legislation that would give the agency the power have been introduced in the House and Senate, but not moved along.
The campaign, backed by the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society and more than two dozen other groups, urges Congress to pass the legislation.
"The tobacco companies have not changed their harmful practices and they won't until Congress forces them to change by granting the FDA meaningful authority over tobacco products," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.
"FDA authority is critical to protecting our kids from tobacco industry marketing and ending the industry's continued deception about its deadly products."
The print and broadcast ads accuse tobacco companies of failing to live up to a $246 billion tobacco settlement made with the states in 1998 in which they pledged to stop targeting children and teens in their marketing.
"In the two years after the settlement, the cigarette companies increased their marketing by 42 percent, reaching a record $9.6 billion in 2000 -- $26 million a day, according to the most recent Federal Trade Commission report on cigarette marketing expenditures," the groups said.
"Much of the increase was in retail store marketing effective at reaching kids, include payments to retailers for prime shelf space that makes cigarettes more visible to kids, discount promotions such as 'buy one, get one free' that make cigarettes more affordable to kids, and free gifts such as hats and mini-radios that appeal to kids."
Legislation is pending that would give the FDA the authority to subject tobacco products to "the same consumer protections, such as ingredient disclosure, product regulation, and truthful packaging and advertising, that apply to other consumable products," the groups said.
"The FDA has to approve any ingredient put into macaroni and cheese, but the ammonia, formaldehyde and arsenic found in cigarettes are unregulated."