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Higgins Votes on Bill to Shine Light on Tobacco Dangers

Jun 12, 2009
Press Release

Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) voted with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which will grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to better protect the public health as it relates to tobacco. 

“Tobacco is the number-one cause of preventable death in America, responsible for about 1 in 5 deaths annually,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus.  “In addition to the lives lost, we lose billions of dollars in health care and lost productivity costs related to tobacco use.  This bill is intended to shine the light on the very real dangers of tobacco.”

Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are related to smoking and approximately 8.6 million Americans suffer from chronic illnesses related to smoking.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion annually, based on lost productivity ($97 billion) and health care expenditures ($96 billion).    

The act requires tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients in each product and allows FDA to require changes in tobacco products to protect the public health.

Every day, more than 3,500 young people try a cigarette for the first time while another 1,000 become regular, daily smokers.  About one third of these youth will die prematurely as a result.

The bill requires more specific health warnings.  The legislation also gives the FDA the necessary authority to restrict tobacco marketing and includes: a ban on outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds; a ban on tobacco-brand sponsorships of sport and entertainment events; and a ban on free giveaways associated with the purchase of a tobacco product. 

The bipartisan bill was approved in the House by a vote of 307-97 and is supported by more than 1,000 organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Phillip Morris USA, the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company as well as six small tobacco product manufacturers have also come out in support of the legislation.