Preventing young people from using tobacco products is a major goal of legislation recently signed by President Barack Obama.
The “Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act” gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) historic, new powers to regulate tobacco products.
The law is intended to “give the scientists and medical experts at the FDA the power to take sensible steps that will reduce tobacco’s harmful effects and prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children,” Obama explained.
The law forbids tobacco companies from sponsoring events or producing candy flavored cigarettes. It gives the government the authority to limit tobacco advertising and mandates larger warning labels on cigarette packages.
“It’s really a long-term effort to protect kids from the marketing by tobacco companies, from the things they [the tobacco companies] do to the product to make it more appealing to kids, more addictive, harder to quit,” said Danny McGoldrick, Vice President for Research at the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids.
Though tobacco advertising targeted at children has long been forbidden by U.S. law, tobacco opponents say it has continued through subtle means. “When you look at these candy and fruit flavored cigarettes and you look at some of their image advertising,” McGoldrick said, ”it’s clear this hasn’t stopped.”
NEW GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY
“What is really important about the bill,” McGoldrick added, “is it gives the FDA broad authority to regulate the sale, marketing and manufacture of tobacco products.”
Tobacco use leads to well over 400,000 deaths per year in the U.S. according to statistics released by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
About half of U.S. high school students have tried smoking according the CDC. The rate of tobacco use among teens is believed to be falling, but is still higher than among adults.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING
“We have actually begun to get inquiries from around the world,” McGoldrick said, “about what can the rest of the world learn about this as they begin to tackle tobacco.”
Because tobacco use by young people is a worldwide issue, the new law is likely to get more international attention in the months to come.