Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Open forum: Meaningful tobacco control legislation needed from Congress.

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Congress is considering the passage of legislation (S.625⁄H.R.1108) described as giving the Food and Drug Administration control over the tobacco industry. In reality, this is very flawed legislation that gives the tobacco industry control over the FDA.

For this reason many National Health Groups oppose this legislation. For example the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, which previously supported the legislation, has withdrawn its support because the legislation does not ban menthol cigarettes, which are primarily used by African American smokers. The NAATPN views this as throwing African Americans off the raft in order to ensure tobacco industry profits.

In addition to not banning menthol-flavored cigarettes, the legislation contains loopholes that the tobacco industry knows will thwart any effective FDA regulations. The industry also knows that most of the advertising restrictions proposed in the legislation have already been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. That is why Philip Morris is strongly supporting this legislation.

Congress needs to reject this particular legislation and introduce meaningful tobacco control legislation in the next session of Congress.

John H. O’ Hara, Bowie

The writer is president of Maryland Group Against Smoker’s Pollution.