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Association lauds progress on tobacco regulation legislation

Washington—The Association offered "enthusiastic support" for tobacco regulation legislation approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee March 4 on a presumed fast track to enactment this year. Similar legislation faltered in the last session of Congress.

"The American Dental Association commends you for introducing H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act," ADA President John S. Findley said in a letter to Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee chair who offered the bill, and Todd Platts (Pa.), lead Republican among 124 bipartisan cosponsors. The committee moved it on by a 39-13 vote.

"Preventing oral cancer and other tobacco-related diseases is a high priority for the ADA," said Dr. Findley. "The Association is especially concerned about recent attempts to market smokeless tobacco as a healthier (or less harmful) alternative to cigarettes. Tobacco users are at least six times more likely to develop oral cancer, a disease that progresses rapidly and can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated early."

The committee-passed bill would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration new authority and resources to regulate the manufacturing (but not the growing or cultivation), marketing and sale of smoking and smokeless tobacco products as "inherently dangerous and cause (of) cancer, heart disease and other adverse health effects." The term "smokeless tobacco" refers to any product that consists of cut, ground, powdered or leaf tobacco intended to be placed in the oral or nasal cavity.

Association policy says nicotine is a drug and tobacco products are nicotine delivery systems that should be subject to FDA regulation. The legislation would provide that authority.

The ADA supports efforts to ban or otherwise restrict the advertising and other marketing of tobacco products, including prohibitions against free product samplings, marketing to children and adolescents, and advertisements promoting spit tobacco as a healthier alternative to cigarettes and legitimate smoking cessation technique. (Additional information is available at

"Your bill moves us in that direction," Dr. Findley told the Commerce Committee. "We commend you for addressing this highly important issue and are pleased to offer our enthusiastic support."

In passing the bill, the committee rejected a substitute amendment to provide for separate regulation of smokeless products and cigarettes.

The bill passed without amendments, which underscores the broad, bipartisan support for the legislation, said an ADA Washington Office congressional lobbyist. Early action in the new 111th Congress is a good indicator of ultimate enactment, she said