Letter on the on the tobacco bill and alternative smoking products to us house of representatives
Thanks to Bill Godshall, director of Smokefree, for fowarding this letter to us.
1926 Monongahela Avenue
April 1, 2009
The Honorable U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
RE: Tobacco Regulatory Legislation (HR 1256 & HR 1261)
Smokefree Pennsylvania urges you to oppose Rep. Waxman's FDA tobacco bill (HR 1256) and to also oppose Rep. Buyer's substitute tobacco bill (HR 1261) because both bills contain outrageous clauses that protect future cigarette markets at the expense of public health.
We oppose Rep. Waxman's legislation, a deal negotiated by Philip Morris and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids in 2004, because it protects the most hazardous tobacco product (cigarettes) from market competition by the least hazardous (smokefree) tobacco products, as it:
- bans all new and recently introduced smokefree products, while keeping cigarettes on the market.
- deceives consumers to believe that smokefree tobacco products are just as hazardous as cigarettes
- prohibits industry from telling smokers that smokefree products are less hazardous than cigarettes
Sound product regulations truthfully inform consumers (and the public) about risks of different products, and encourage industry to make lower risk products. Cigarettes are 100 times deadlier than smokefree tobacco products, but 85% of smokers incorrectly believe that smokefree tobacco products are just as hazardous as cigarettes. By switching to smokefree tobacco/nicotine products, smokers reduce their health risks by nearly as much as by quitting all tobacco/nicotine, and millions have already done so. Public health agencies have an ethical duty to inform smokers that smokefree tobacco/nicotine products are less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes, and smokers have a human right to this important information. I coauthored a report "Tobacco harm reduction: an alternative cessation strategy for addicted smokers" at http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/3/1/37
While Smokefree Pennsylvania supports the harm reduction provisions in Rep. Buyer's substitute (HR 1261), we oppose the bill since it contains clauses that would increase cigarette sales to minors.
Since 1990, Smokefree Pennsylvania has advocated policies to protect people from tobacco smoke pollution, increase cigarette taxes, reduce tobacco marketing to youth, preserve civil justice remedies for tobacco victims, expand smoking cessation services, and inform smokers that smokefree tobacco/nicotine products are less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes.
Thank you for your consideration, and feel free to contact me anytime.
William T. Godshall, MPH Executive Director