Passage of Tobacco Control Act Would Help FDA Regulate Tobacco Ads Targeted at Minority Communities, Former Surgeon General Satcher Says in Opinion Piece
"This year, Congress has an opportunity to do something truly important to improve the health of America's families," particularly minorities, by passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S 625 and HR 1108), former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher writes in an opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The legislation would "finally" give FDA authority over tobacco products and the tobacco industry's marketing practices, according to Satcher. In particular, it would require tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients in their products, remove harmful ingredients and "stop misleading the public about the dangers of smoking," Satcher writes.
Despite "considerable progress, tobacco continues to take a terrible toll on the health of our citizens," Satcher says. He notes that although whites are more likely than blacks to be smokers, blacks die at higher rates of smoking-related diseases. Among Hispanics, "smoking is the cause of a disproportionate amount of death and disease in a community with low rates of health insurance coverage and limited access to medical care."
He adds that in recent years, "tobacco companies have increased marketing to the Hispanic community with ads in magazines popular" with Hispanic youth. "There is no better example of the powerful impact of tobacco marketing" toward black youth than the fact that 80% of them prefer Lorillard Tobacco's Newport cigarettes.
"The tobacco companies get away with these harmful practices because no government agency currently has any real authority over how tobacco products are manufactured or marketed," Satcher writes. The proposed legislation "would give the FDA the authority to crack down" on such marketing practices, Satcher said. He adds, "By passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, Congress can take a major step to protect our children and reduce the terrible toll of tobacco on our communities" (Satcher, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/27).