07.20.08

Enzi Denounces House Passage of "Marlboro Protection Act" "Big Tobacco Supports This Bill Because it Will Not Stop Anyone from Smoking"

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today denouncedpassage by the House of Representatives of a so-called tobacco regulation bill he said“coddles Big Tobacco while protecting the industry’s best tools to recruit and addict yourchildren to tobacco.” “Trying to make cigarettes safer through a billion-dollar bureaucracy is a waste oftime and money,” Enzi said. “The right approach is to get people to stop smoking, orbetter yet, never to start. Big Tobacco supports this bill because it will not stop anyonefrom smoking. “Tobacco is one of the biggest contributors to our nation’s growing health carecrisis. We need to fight the war on tobacco head on, not sign a peace treaty with PhilipMorris, a company that perpetuates and profits from the crisis. Big Tobacco supports thisbill because they have a stake in maintaining the status quo. I don't. They’re happy witha bill that doesn’t stop people from smoking; I’m not. I want real change, so I’m going tofight this bill and its Big Tobacco backers by objecting to it in the Senate.” Enzi noted that the bill would allow Big Tobacco to continue its aggressivemarketing to kids by exempting menthol from a list of banned flavorings. Menthol isused by Big Tobacco to target and lure young smokers, particularly African-Americans.“Last year, during HELP Committee consideration of this bill, I filed several amendmentsaddressing the menthol issue. Folks need to understand this glaring loophole in the billand how it puts our kids at risk. “We know that Big Tobacco targets children and teenagers – particularly youngAfrican-Americans – by aggressively marketing menthol cigarettes to them,” Enzi said.“So why does this bill ban almost every type of flavoring in tobacco products exceptmenthol? Supporters of this bill claim they want to protect children and families fromunscrupulous tobacco companies, but the only people this approach protects is BigTobacco.” The House today approved the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco ControlAct,” H.R. 1108, a bill that would require the regulation of tobacco products by the Foodand Drug Administration (FDA). The bill would gut the authority that Congress hasbestowed and staunchly defended for the FDA – the authority to remove health threatsfrom the marketplace, Enzi maintained. Philip Morris, the nation’s largest cigarettemaker, helped draft the bill. “Poison peddlers shouldn't get to decide how we fight the war against their deadlyproducts. I urge my friends in the public health community not to become so desperate todo something about the tobacco problem in this country that they fall for this wolf insheep’s clothing,” Enzi added. “Keep asking yourself: if this bill is good for BigTobacco, how can it be good for public health? The fact is it can’t. This bill is nothingmore than a ‘Marlboro Protection Act,’ written to keep Philip Morris at the top of thetobacco market.” Enzi urged his colleagues to consider legislation he introduced last year to wipeout tobacco use in America through an innovative cap-and-trade program that will shrinkthe of the tobacco market over the next 20 years. “Tobacco kills. We need new ideas to tackle tobacco use,” Enzi said. “That’swhat my legislation does. My bill contains a novel cap-and-trade program that willguarantee that fewer people suffer the deadly consequences of smoking, while providingflexibility in how those reductions are achieved.” The Enzi proposal, the “Help End Addiction to Lethal Tobacco Habits Act”(HEALTH Act), S. 1834, would also close loopholes in the law that tobacco companieshave exploited and enjoyed for far too long. It would use proven approaches to helppeople stop using tobacco products and implement tried and true prevention programs. ####

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