HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS PETITION STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES TO CALL CIGARETTE BRANDS 'DRUGS'
HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS PETITION STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES TO CALL CIGARETTE BRANDS 'DRUGS' SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, united as the Tri-Agency Health Coalition, filed petitions today with the California State Attorney General's Office and the Department of Health Services requesting that low-tar, low- nicotine cigarettes be classified as "drugs" under the California Health Act and urged these agencies to take immediate action against advertisements promoting those products. "Recent evidence that has surfaced from federal court cases, confirms that the tobacco industry has developed and promoted low- tar, low-nicotine products to keep smokers hooked and to entice non- smokers into a dangerous addiction," said John Schafer, M.D., American Heart Association Public Affairs chairman -- California Affiliate. Added Ben Abate, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer -- American Lung Association of California, "Tobacco companies want the public to believe that smoking isn't harmful. Their ads imply that these products are safer or less addictive than regular cigarettes. We say to our state and federal governments -- make the tobacco companies prove it." The petition says that existing federal and state laws provide clear authority for both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health Services regulatory action against products which make implied or direct health claims. The laws specifically state that action may be taken if those products are sold with the intent of reducing the risk of disease or to affect the function of the body. The petition says that low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes fall squarely within that definition. At the federal level, the three health organizations have already petitioned the FDA to classify low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes and some other tobacco products as "drugs" under the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Said Schafer, "Because of political pressure from the tobacco industry, the FDA is moving glacially on tobacco regulation. It's time for the Department of Health Services to take action to protect the people of California. The Department of Health Services must require tobacco companies to back up their claims with sound science or drop the misleading ads and promotions." Added Schaefer, "No one is minding the store on tobacco regulation and the industry is exploiting this inaction to mislead the public. While making claims that low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes are safer and less addictive, tobacco companies continue to alter those products with dangerous chemicals and additives, which are not disclosed to the public or tested for safety. Californians have a right to know what is really in their cigarettes." The petition states that tobacco use is responsible for 434,000 deaths each year in the United States. In California, smoking kills 28,533 people each year. Tobacco use also burdens California with $6 billion annually, or approximately $221 for every American. Schafer noted that both Surgeon General Novello and former Surgeon General Koop have called tobacco this nation's most preventable cause of death and disease. "The president, Congress and this nation's top health officials have focused on prevention as the foundation for national health care reform. An aggressive strategy to reduce tobacco use in America should be a pillar of that strategy," said David Burns, M.D., research committee chairman, American Cancer Society. To help accomplish that mission, the petition calls for decisive federal and state action to regulate the sale, manufacture, distribution, advertising and marketing of all tobacco products. Said Schafer, "With so much at stake for the health of Californians, we expect the state agencies to enforce basic consumer safety and protection measures on all hazardous products. Tobacco should be no exception." He added, "We want the health department to know that it is playing a dangerous game with public health if it does not demand truth and open disclosure from the tobacco industry. "If the Department of Health Services is serious about better health and increased productivity for Californians, it should, in the very least, hold the tobacco industry to the same health and safety regulations as the makers of lipstick and toothpaste." -0- 9/29/92 /CONTACT: Dian Kiser of the American Heart Association, 310-446-6505; S. Muraoka of American Cancer Society, 310-448-0500; or Tony Najera of American Lung Association, 310-442-4446/ CO: American Cancer Society; American Heart Association; American Lung Association ST: California IN: HEA SU:
BP-EH -- LA007 -- 4387 09/29/92 12:24 EDT
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|Date:||Sep 29, 1992|
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