June 11, 2009


Senator Calls Bill Major Step in Reducing Teen Smoking

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today praised Senate passage of legislation that will empower the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products, including the power to remove harmful ingredients from tobacco products and to stop false claims made by the tobacco industry regarding the addictive nature of nicotine.


The Senate passed the bill by a vote of  79-17.   In April, the House of Representatives passed a similar measure, and the differences between the two versions will have to be reconciled. President Obama has said he will sign the bill.


Senator Cardin, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan measure, said passage of the bill was one of the most important steps we can take to protect the health of all Americans.   "It will help reduce the tremendous toll that tobacco use has on the health of Americans. Today, more than 400,000 Americans and 6,800 Marylanders die each year from tobacco use.   For every Marylander who dies from smoking, approximately 20 more suffer serious tobacco-caused health problems.


"This bill gives the FDA the power it needs to help addicted smokers overcome their addiction, and to make the product less toxic for smokers who are unable or unwilling to stop. This bill is long overdue and represents a responsible approach to dealing with the smoking addiction in this country."


It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans are currently addicted to tobacco.   The tobacco industry spends more than $13 billion a year to promote its products.   Much of that money is spent in ways designed to tempt children to start smoking, before they are mature enough to appreciate the enormity of the health risk.


In Maryland, more than one in seven high school students smoke cigarettes, and each year, 22,000 Maryland children try cigarettes for the first time. Of these, 6,600 become addicted to cigarettes each year.


The Family, Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, H.R. 1256, would do the following:


·          Establish A New Chapter on Tobacco Regulation;

·          Give Authority to Restrict Tobacco Advertising;

·          Give Authority to Prevent Sale to Youth;

·          Preserve FDA Rule to Curb Tobacco Use by Youth;

·          Require Stronger Warning Labels;

·          Prevent Tobacco Industry Misrepresentations;

·          Give Authority to Order Removal of Hazardous Ingredients;

·          Set Standards for Reduced Risk Products; and

·          Require Tobacco Companies Will Pay the Cost of Regulation.