Groups and politicians from around the nation expressed concerns as well as satisfaction after the Senate passed a bill to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate Tobacco.
The legislation, which was reconciled with a House of Representatives version of the bill, was sent to President Obama on Friday for his signature to enact it into law.
Below are selected comments from various health organizations, lobby groups, and lawmakers, bureaucrats and the Altria Group, which runs Philip Morris, the leading cigarette maker in the U.S.:
Seven former Secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare and Health and Human Services -- Joseph A. Califano, Jr. (1977-1979), Louis W. Sullivan, M.D. (1989-1993), Donna E. Shalala, Ph.D. (1993-2001), Tommy G. Thompson (2001-2005), Otis R. Bowen, M.D. (1985-1989), Richard S. Schweiker (1981-1983), David Matthews, Ph.D. (1975-1977) -- and Julius B. Richmond, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General (1977-1981), and William S. Robinson, Executive Director, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network
- In a letter dated June 4, 2008, the group said that by not amending the bill to include menthol flavored cigarettes, the type of cigarette used by 81 percent of teen African American smokers, it sends a message that African American youngsters are valued less than white youngsters.
The bill bans the use of all artificial or natural flavors in cigarettes -- except menthol. Since menthol is by far the most popular 'flavor' for cigarettes, that's a loophole big enough for a herd of wild animals to romp through and trample the health of African Americans.
The Altria Group
The legislation passed today is not perfect. For example, we have expressed First Amendment reservations about certain provisions, including those that could restrict a manufacturer’s ability to communicate truthful information to adult consumers about tobacco products. We also believe that the resolution of certain issues would best be handled by rulemaking processes that involve sound scientific data and public participation. We have made our views known on these provisions throughout the legislative process.
On balance, however, the legislation is an important step forward to achieve the goal we share with others to provide federal regulation of tobacco products. We thus encourage the House to adopt H.R. 1256, and to send it to the President for his approval.”
Dr. John S. Findley, American Dental Association President
- Dentists are the first line of defense in the war against oral cancer and many other tobacco-related diseases. The American Dental Association has long-standing policy that nicotine is a drug, and that cigarettes and other tobacco products are nicotine delivery devices and, therefore, should be regulated by the FDA. The Association has devoted particular attention to the insidious marketing of tobacco products to children, especially so-called 'smokeless' or spit tobacco products ... Congress's action is the first step in more effectively regulating tobacco use and marketing, and we urge the president to sign this legislation as soon as possible.
Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
- This legislation represents the strongest action Congress has ever taken to reduce tobacco use. If effectively implemented, this legislation will significantly reduce the number of children who start to use tobacco, the number of adults who continue to use tobacco and the number of people who suffer and die as a result.
Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner of Food and Drugs
- The FDA welcomes the authority given to us by Congress to regulate tobacco products. Because smoking and chewing tobacco cause serious public health problems, we view our new responsibilities as a logical extension of our public health mission to protect and to advance the health of Americans. As we do with foods, drugs and medical products, the agency will rely on the best available science in fulfilling its regulatory responsibilities concerning tobacco.
Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO
- This legislation provides a tremendous opportunity to finally hold tobacco companies accountable and restrict efforts to addict more children and adults. It has been a long and challenging process to move the bill through Congress but the determination of many concerned parents and supporters has never wavered.
Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker
- It's really a great day. It's momentous -- it's historic. We can't say that all the time about the legislation that we pass here, but it would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of what is happening here today.
James A.L. Mathers, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians
- This Congress, with the Obama Administration's unwavering support, has finally accomplished what previously could not be done. It has ended the special protection that the tobacco industry has enjoyed for too long, and at great cost to our nation's health