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Church and Public Health Groups Urge the Passage of the ‘Tobacco’ Act

The new measure, if passed by both houses of Congress, would allow the FDA authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, labeling, distribution and sale of tobacco products in the States
( [email protected] ) Aug 30, 2004 07:23 PM EDT

With more than 400,000 tobacco-related deaths recorded annually, Christians and churches long-since called for tobacco regulation in the U.S. According to the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ELRC), there may soon be a legislation regulating tobacco products nationwide.

Richard Land, President of the ELRC explained that the Senate approved an amendment that would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco. However, the House of Representatives did not include a provision calling for such a measure. Therefore, when both the Senate and House reconvenes on Sept. 7, a conference committee consisting of both chambers will rewrite a final report to submit to Congress for passage.

“We find it incredible that the FDA can ensure the safety of everyday items like macaroni and cheese, but has no authority over tobacco, a product that kills over 400,000 Americans every year,” Land wrote in a letter encouraging House Majoirty Leader Tom Delay to work for approval of the amendment. “The faith community spends too much time burying mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers who die because they became addicted to tobacco products when they were young.”

Tobacco companies “continue to spend billions of dollars to addict people to this deadly product,” Land Continued.

“We also know that the federal government can reduce the staggering addiction rate, particularly among vulnerable children, by fully regulating tobacco products.”

Should the senate-approved version of the measure pass, the FDA would have the regulatory authority over the manufacturing, marketing, labeling, distribution and sale of tobacco products. The FDA would also have the authority to restrict tobacco advertising that targets children, eliminate the federal quota and price support programs for tobacco and establish a buyout program for tobacco growers to be paid for by tobacco companies.

In addition to the ERLC, a coalition of some 50 public health and Christian organizations support the bill. Members include: the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Children’s Defense Fund, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, Islamic Society of North America, National Education Association, Presbyterian Church (USA) and Seventh-day Adventist Church.