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NAQC Newsroom: Tobacco Control

We Need Your Help! Tell Congress not to weaken FDA's authority over tobacco products!

Thursday, May 31, 2012  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

Friends in Tobacco Control – WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Cigar manufacturers and retailers are continuing to push to have language added to the Agriculture/FDA appropriations bill that would exclude many types of cigars from regulation by the FDA. We think they are pushing language similar to H.R. 1639, a bill that would exempt many cigars from FDA oversight. The industry has been lobbying hard on H.R. 1639 and the bill continues to pick-up co-sponsors.

We believe the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee could take up the funding bill next Wednesday, June 6th. Action in the full Appropriations Committee would take place shortly after the Subcommittee acts.

We need your help to send the message to members of the House Appropriations Committee to oppose any effort to weaken FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products.

Given that members are hearing from the tobacco industry it is critical that members of Congress hear about this issue from the public health community. If your Representative is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and you haven’t already done so, please contact them over the next few days and encourage your local partners and colleagues to do the same. Calls to district offices or DC offices could go a long way to defeating any effort to weaken FDA’s authority to regulate all tobacco products. To see if your Representative is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, go to:

You can find your Representative’s phone number by clicking on the link at the top of the page and entering your zip code. Go to:

Your Representative’s DC Office number should be provided on the page. To find their district office phone number, click on the link to their website where you should be able to find a number for their local office.

Below are some talking points on the issue.

  • We are concerned that during consideration of the FDA appropriations bill an amendment will be offered to reduce funding or weaken FDA’s authority over tobacco products.
  • We know the cigar manufacturers and retailers are pushing to have language added that would exclude many types of cigars from regulation by the FDA.
  • There should be discussion and careful debate about this issue before any action is taken. All members should understand exactly what types of products would be excluded.
  • The tobacco industry is arguing that H.R. 1639 would exclude "premium and traditional” cigars. However, the proposed exemption appears to be much broader than its proponents claim. It couldalso exclude products such as Swisher Sweets blunts and cigarillos which come in flavors such as chocolate and strawberry, or Phillies Sugarillo Cigarillos, which have been advertised with the tagline, "when sweet isn’t enough.” These products are much cheaper than premium cigars, often come in flavors that appeal to youth, and are sold in convenience stores. The bill could also exclude some Black & Mild cigar products, the most popular cigar brand among youth. [Note: H.R.1639 would exclude cigars that are wrapped in leaf tobacco, have no filter, and weigh more than 6 pounds per 1,000. Many smaller cigars such as Swisher Sweets, Phillies Cigarillos and some Black and Mild cigars weigh more than 6 pounds per 1,000, have no filter and are wrapped in a brown wrapper that contains leaf tobacco and thus would be excluded.]
  • Cigars are not just smoked by adults. Nearly one in five (18.6%) high school boys currently smoke some type of cigar (i.e., large cigar, cigarillo, or small cigar).
  • Cigar smoking is harmful to health. Regular cigar smoking causes cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and lung. Heavy cigar smokers have an increased risk of heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • I urge you oppose any amendment or bill that would exclude many types of cigars from FDA oversight. It doesn’t make any sense to completely exclude a product that causes cancer from any oversight. There should be a thoughtful and thorough debate about this issue before any action is taken

[Here] is a factsheet that provides additional background information on H.R. 1639. As I mentioned, we expect the cigar amendment to the FDA appropriations bill to mirror this bill. The factsheet includes background information as well as pictures of the products that could be potentially exempt from regulation under the amendment.

If you have any questions about this issue please don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, if you make contact with any staff members about this issue, please let us know how it goes.

Thank you!

Source: Meg Riordan, Director, Policy Research, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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