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Dear Legislator:

In recent months, Members of Congress have introduced legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate cigarettes. As the largest producer of cigarettes in the world, Philip Morris believes the time is right to craft federal legislation that makes sense. We support congressional debate that will produce a sensible, useful, FDA tobacco bill. And we believe strongly that regulation of cigarettes should not impose any new government regulation upon tobacco growers.

Our critics are skeptical of our motives, and some within the tobacco industry itself vigorously oppose our position. Yet our reason is simple: we believe regulation can bring greater stability and consistency to tobacco policy and greater predictability to our business. And we believe that, in order to be in step with the expectations of society today, the tobacco industry and cigarettes must be subjected to increased government oversight and regulation, comparable to many common consumer goods.

Is important to note, however, that cigarettes are a unique consumer product. As a result, they should be regulated as cigarettes, not food or, as was proposed in 1996, medical devices. We do believe there is a need to create a regulatory regime that [] while respecting the decision of adults who smoke [] provides for: additional information on tobacco-related issues; government oversight of cigarette manufacturing; and standards for the design, introduction and responsible communications regarding potentially reduced-risk cigarettes.

Philip Morris and the public health community agree on many positions contained in the legislative proposals currently pending in Congress. These include:

[yen] FDA authority to: revise existing warning labels or add new ones on cigarette packs and advertisements; establish a national standard for cigarette ingredient disclosure; develop uniform testing standards for yields of tar, nicotine and other smoke constituents; oversee cigarette manufacturing processes; ensure consistent use of brand descriptors such as [] light []; and test cigarette ingredients to ensure they don[]t increase the inherent health risks or addictiveness of smoking;

[yen] A national minimum age of 18 for the purchase of tobacco products;

[yen] Prohibition against selling cigarettes unpackaged, as single cigarettes; and,

[yen] A national requirement that cigarettes be sold in face-to-face transactions, where age can be verified and access laws can be monitored and enforced.

We also believe that FDA regulation is the best way to establish appropriate standards for determining what constitutes a reduced risk[] cigarette. This would include setting guidelines for any claims that could be made by manufacturers, including the type and manner of communication that should be provided to consumers. In other words, it should be the FDA, which determines what is, in fact, a []reduced risk[] cigarette and what communications are appropriate.

The 1998 settlement with your states has accomplished a great deal on an issue of great importance -- marketing practices believed by many to be related to youth smoking prevention. Cigarette advertising by participating companies has been significantly curtailed. Most forms of outdoor advertising are gone. Product placements in movies and television are prohibited. And merchandise with tobacco brand logos is no longer being produced. In addition, the states have billions of dollars they can spend on tobacco education, research, advertising, cessation, smoking-related healthcare costs for smokers, and cigarette access control programs.

Philip Morris would strongly support Congressional action codifying these marketing provisions (including the provision prohibiting the marketing of cigarettes to minors, and provisions to restrict access to the product) so that those restrictions would apply to the entire U.S. tobacco industry.

There is significant agreement between Philip Morris and our critics on the fundamentals of an FDA bill. However, several issues still need to be resolved. As former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler pointedly told me at a public forum last year, []the devil is in the details[]. We have an opportunity to address the details in this Congress, and we are willing to work wish our critics and others to make FDA regulation of cigarettes a reality.

We hope you will join us in calling for federal regulation of tobacco products.


Steven C. Parrish

Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
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Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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