Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tobacco Regulation

Here is where I stand on federal tobacco regulation.

I would like to thank the editors of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal for their editorial dated 4/9/09 on "Tobacco regulation". They review some of the facts of this apparently simple issue and conclude that we should not support federal legislation to regulate tobacco. I understand this would expand the federal government and place the Food and Drug Administration in a dilemma. I am not in favor of either of these happening. Both have enough problems to manage already. I am an allergist and I treat patients who suffer from diseases caused by tobacco products daily. I want to choose the path that gives our nation the best chance of quickly ending all of the suffering and deaths caused by tobacco products. Thus far, tobacco companies and their lobbies have been relatively successful at watering down legislation to limit consumption of tobacco products, while continuing to get more younger smokers and marketing of new products. Smoking cessation is a delayed step tobacco products users usually take once they have developed a disease. The horse in already out of the barn. Herein lies the problem. Our current efforts have not been particularly successful. Now, more than at any time in the past, we have the political will between republicans and democrats to take united steps to eliminate this scourge. I think we should support federal legislation to further control the tobacco industry and all of the products, because I think it will help us get to what should be our goal more quickly. Even if this legislation is signed into law by President Obama, which he supports, the fight is not over. It will not be over until we have completely eliminated the largest preventable cause of deaths in the U.S. - tobacco products.

My position is in agreement with the American Heart Association, American Medical Association, the Brookings Institute, the New England Journal of Medicine, and TobaccoFreeKids, not the Cato Institute.

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