Statement by CDC Director on the First Anniversary of the Tobacco Control Act

Statement by CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., on the First Anniversary of the Tobacco Control Act

Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of death, killing 443,000 Americans every year and costing $193 billion in annual direct medical costs and lost productivity. The amount states spend on tobacco prevention programs pales in comparison to the $12.8 billion a year the tobacco companies spend to market their deadly products, including to young people. Each day, about 1,000 young people under age 18 become regular smokers. These new FDA regulations afford young people a higher level of protection from the tobacco industry’s misleading and deceptive marketing and advertising practices than they have ever had before.

Although studies show smokers believe light, low, and mild cigarettes are safer than others, repeated testing proves that all cigarettes are harmful and contribute to lifelong health problems.

These new regulations, which mark the first anniversary of the historic FDA legislation, signal a new chapter in the public health effort to reduce the devastating toll that tobacco use takes on our nation. CDC will continue ongoing efforts to protect the public’s health from the harmful effects of tobacco use. CDC supports high-impact, proven strategies that prevent young people from starting to smoke, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, promote quitting, and eliminate tobacco-related health disparities.

To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, CDC and the World Health Organization recommend the MPOWER package of actions:

  • monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies;
  • protecting people from tobacco smoke;
  • offering help to quit tobacco use;
  • warning about the dangers of tobacco;
  • enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship; and
  • raising taxes on tobacco.

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These provisions represent the “E” in MPOWER. Research shows that the use of descriptors like “light,” “low,” and “mild” on tobacco products is misleading to the public. By eliminating these terms in tobacco labeling and advertising, many smokers may not be misled to mistakenly believe that these products are less harmful than other cigarettes. Switching to light cigarettes does not help smokers quit and may actually decrease the motivation to quit.

To educate the public about the new FDA regulations, CDC developed several Web-based and social media materials that can be viewed at www.cdc.gov/tobacco. Additional details on the new FDA regulations are available at www.fda.gov/tobacco. People who use tobacco can call:

1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.smokefree.gov for quitting assistance.

Background

On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, including their manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and sale. Today, FDA regulations designed to further reduce the suffering, death, and disease caused by tobacco use and to make cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products less accessible and less appealing to youth go into effect.

The Tobacco Control Act includes:

  • Provisions that prohibit the advertising or manufacture of tobacco products with the descriptors “light,” “low,” or “mild,” or similar descriptors, without an order from FDA;
  • FDA rules that limit the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children and adolescents;
  • Requirements for new, larger health warnings on smokeless tobacco packaging and advertisements.