Washington, D.C., June 21, 2019 — This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a landmark law that granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory oversight of the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
The law took major steps to curtail tobacco industry practices intended to lure kids to smoke and deceive adults about the health hazards of tobacco use. For example, it prohibited candy-, fruit- and clove-flavored combustible cigarettes and ended misleading product references such as “low,” “light,” and “mild.”
“The Tobacco Control Act was made possible by grassroots advocates nationwide and congressional leaders who insisted that the tobacco industry’s virtually unfettered ability to manipulate its products and its customers had to end,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “But the progress made under the law is under threat by Big Tobacco’s ceaseless efforts to replace the prior generation of tobacco users with a new one. Public health advocates cannot let up in our efforts to end tobacco use and nicotine addiction in this country.”
The law’s enactment on June 22, 2009 followed a years-long effort by the American Heart Association and the broader public health community to impose strict regulations on the cabal of tobacco manufacturers, retailers, distributors and importers that fed the habit of millions of tobacco users nationwide. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the bill, which received broad bipartisan support and was signed by President Barack Obama.
- Removed candy- fruit, and clove-flavored combustible cigarettes from the market.
- Prohibited deceptive labeling of products with terms such as “low,” “light,” and “mild.”
- Required graphic warning labels on cigarettes.
- Imposed marketing and advertising restrictions to prevent predatory marketing to youth.
- Eliminated cigarette vending machines in non-age restricted venues to prevent minors from accessing them.
- Banned the sale of single cigarettes, or “loosies.”
- Prohibited free cigarette samples and brand-name non-tobacco promotional items.
The law and other tobacco-control measures at the federal, state and community levels have combined to reduce the proportion of people in this country who smoke from nearly 21 percent in 2005 to 14 percent in 2017.
But the tobacco industry has successfully prevented some of the Tobacco Control Act’s most powerful provisions, such as requiring new graphic warning labels on cigarettes, from taking effect. (In a victory for public health advocates, a federal judge in September ordered the FDA to expedite a final rule requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and advertising.)
And since the law’s enactment, the industry has aggressively marketed electronic cigarettes and other recently introduced products that threaten to addict a new generation of tobacco users. As a result, e-cigarette use has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by 48 percent among middle school students and 78 percent among high school students from 2017 to 2018 alone.
The American Heart Association urges the FDA to take immediate steps to curtail tobacco companies’ targeting of children with e-cigarettes and other recent products by:
- Swiftly removing flavored e-cigarettes and cigars from the market.
- Prohibiting all marketing practices, including those on social media, that are shown to appeal to children.
- Suspending online sales of e-cigarettes until effective age verification mechanisms are established.
- Enforcing rules that prevent the sale of products that were not commercially marketed as of August 8, 2016, or were modified after that date, without premarket review.
“True to its morally corrupted core, the tobacco industry has fought to prevent many of the law’s provisions from taking effect while employing time-honored tactics to ignite a time bomb of e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction among youth,” Brown said. “The FDA must act quickly if we are to achieve the tobacco endgame.”
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.