As you know, ADHA has long-supported federal regulation of tobacco. An opportunity to enact such legislation lies before us and dental hygienists are urged to take action.
Last month, the Senate voted 78-15 to approve an amendment that added the provisions of both the DeWine/Kennedy FDA tobacco regulation bill (S..2461/HR4433) and the McConnell tobacco grower buyout bill (S. 1490) to an unrelated "must-pass" bill, H.R. 4520, relating to Foreign Sales Corporations, known as the "Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act." Public health groups and tobacco grower groups support the amendment. One tobacco company, Philip Morris, broke ranks with all other tobacco companies to support the provision. The House has included a limited tobacco provision (tobacco growers buyout only, which would be funded by taxpayers) in its version of the JOBS Act. Accordingly, the differing tobacco provisions must be reconciled in the upcoming conference committee negotiations on the JOBS Act.
The Senate Tobacco Amendment would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the sale, marketing, and advertisement of tobacco to prevent underage smoking. In addition, the legislation would give the FDA authority to require tobacco companies to list all manufacturer-added ingredients. The legislation further requires tobacco companies to place stronger, more explicit language on tobacco packaging. The tobacco grower buyout would end the tobacco quota system established during the Depression which sets minimum tobacco prices and mandates how much individual farmers can grow .
The Senate Tobacco Amendment is a critical public health priority. Tobacco use is the nation's leading preventable cause of death,. Every day, another 2,000 children become regular smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
Please contact your two U.S. Senators and your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of FDA tobacco regulation and an industry-funded tobacco farmer buyout. Specifically, ask that your legislators support the inclusion of the Senate tobacco provisions in H.R. 4520, the JOBS Act. In addition, ask members of the House of Representatives to cosponsor HR 4433 (the FDA regulation bill that was added to H.R. 4520 in the Senate) in order to send support for the tobacco regulation measure to House leadership.
Despite the strong Senate vote, maintenance of the Senate Tobacco Amendment in the conference committee will be difficult. It is a delicate compromise that will not hold without significant grassroots support. Particularly important will be contacts from dental hygienists in the districts of Republican members of the House of Representatives, hygienists in tobacco-growing states and hygienists in Iowa (targeting Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley), in New Hampshire (targeting Health Committee Chairman Judd Gregg) and in Stafford, Texas (House Majority Leader Tom DeLay).
Congressman Rahm Emanuel
Senator Richard Durbin
Thank you very much for your efforts