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Letter to the Editor: Tobacco Regulation

By CONNIE COPENHAVER
Green River

Dear Editor,

As a citizen volunteering in my community to suppress the use of tobacco products and assist quit-smoking programs, I am concerned about a proposal to require the FDA to regulate tobacco products.

Now included as part of the FSC/ETI bill set to be considered by a Senate-House conference committee in September, the DeWine/Kennedy amendment would provide the Food and Drug Admin. (FDA) with certain authority to regulate tobacco products.

If this bill were enacted, the current public discussion regarding the possible benefits of tobacco harm reduction could be seriously curtailed. This bill essentially makes FDA the gatekeeper for what information the media, and the consumer, may have access to. The passage of this FDA regulation would suppress important health information about the relative risk of tobacco products. This bill would change the core mission of a federal agency without having the issue ever studied by Congress. The 600+ page bill never had a committee hearing, markup or floor debate. It has not been discussed with FDA officials to determine if they would even be able to handle it. This legislation needs to be thoroughly reviewed by Congress so that its impact is understood, and not attached to a different bill without any study.

The FDA bill will allow monopolies of big tobacco companies by suppressing any new or smaller companies, and curtailing the necessity of big tobacco to continue public dialogue regarding tobacco harm reduction.

The millions, perhaps billions, of tax dollars it will take to set up a new "Bureau" could be much better spent on existing programs for quit-smoking and non- smoking ad campaigns, and for grass-roots programs, to educate children on the harmful effects of tobacco products, to encourage them to never start, and help them, and their adult parents, manage the problems inherent with quitting.

If you would like to stop this bill from happening, you need to contact Senator Hatch immediately with a written letter or email at Senator Orrin Hatch, 104 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510, hatch.senate.gov.





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