Obama Signs Tobacco Law

President Barack Obama signed The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law yesterday. The law will allow the federal government broad authority over <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">tobacco products and will also allow regulators to control cigarette packaging and marketing as well as how much nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—is added in tobacco products, explained the Washington Post previously.

There are about 443,000 deaths and $100 billion in healthcare costs linked to tobacco use in the United States every year. According to USA Today, President Obama, who signed the bill in a ceremony that included lawmakers and teenagers, said he is hoping to cut down the numbers of teens each day—estimated at about 1,000—who take up smoking. “I was one of these teenagers. And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it’s been with you for a long time,” said Obama, quoted USA Today.

According to the LA Times, citing the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third—30 percent—of “youth” smokers will die prematurely from a “smoking-related disease” and those who begin smoking before they are 21 years of age have the most difficult time quitting. The NIH reports that about 25 percent of all U.S. high school students smoke, said the LA Times.

President Obama noted that the law’s focus is on ending kid-geared marketing, said USA Today. “The kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason. They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting,” President Obama said, quoted USA Today.

With the law in place, flavored cigarettes will be banned by this fall and shortly after—by January—tobacco manufacturers and importers will be required to provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the ingredients used in their products, said USA Today. By April 2010, those makers will no longer be permitted to place their logos on “sporting, athletic or entertainment events, or on clothing and other promotional items,” said USA Today, adding that by July 2010, verbiage including the words “light,” “low,” or “mild” will be banned from tobacco product marketing. Finally, by 2011, all tobacco products must “carry larger and stronger warning labels,” reported USA Today.

Commenting on the bill, Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said, it represents “the strongest action the federal government has ever taken to reduce tobacco use,” quoted USA Today, noting that the fight to cede regulatory power over tobacco to the government has been ongoing for at least a decade.

It has taken 50 years since the surgeon general first warned about tobacco’s negative health effects, the Washington Post noted previously, largely because of industry opposition and government red tape. In 1965, congress required warning labels on cigarette packs, which were updated in 1984.

Although the president reportedly quit smoking for his wife, Michelle, who asked him to do so before they hit the campaign trail, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said: “It’s something that he continues to struggle with … like millions of Americans have,” reported the LA Times.

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