Three years ago, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law. Those of us now know that we were witnessing history. With the stroke of a pen and a strong bipartisan support in Congress, the Food and Drug Administration was charged with protecting public health from tobacco use – the most preventable cause of the country’s disease, disability and death. More than 1,200 people die every day in the United States because of cigarettes. That’s one death every 71 seconds. Today I am pleased to announce that the law works.
In passing the law against tobacco, Congress recognized that the core of any successful strategy to reduce tobacco use for adults is to prevent young people from ever starting. More than 80 percent of adult smokers in the United States begin smoking in adolescence. Every day, more than 3,800 young people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette and 1,000 become daily smokers of cigarettes. To reverse this trend aggressive action on two fronts: reducing the attractiveness of tobacco products to children and the termination of their access to them. This is exactly what the FDA does.
During our first 12 months of tobacco regulation, FDA pulled the candies and other flavored cigarettes from the market, issued tough new rules to stop the sale of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco to young people, is prohibited brand sponsorship of sports events and concerts, as well as implemented new requirements for warning labels on smokeless tobacco products. FDA also began financing public authorities to ensure the vigorous implementation of these new measures to protect our children.
Efforts by FDA, not just aimed at young people. We’re working to make sure that all Americans, young and old, to understand the true dangers of tobacco use. That is why the FDA to ensure the ban on misleading labeling and advertising claims, and why, for the first time, tobacco companies are required to report on the number of harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in the products they make.
FDA also requires graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and advertisements. While tobacco companies claim suspended the implementation of prevention requirements, FDA will continue to fight to save them to the United States, as well as dozens of other countries around the world could use is an effective way to communicate about the dangers of smoking to consumers.
Going back a wave of suffering and death caused by tobacco use will not be easy.
Currently, researchers are beginning to unravel the FDA secrets of tobacco use and addiction, including the possibility of reducing the risk of addiction and tobacco products. FDA scientists are also studying the full range of health effects of tobacco use and how to better communicate those risks to the public. Working with other federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, we will meet these challenges.
Much has been done since that day three years ago, when the Law on Tobacco Control was signed into law by the President in the White House Rose Garden. At the FDA, these developments represent a solid basis for further work. I have never been more confident that together we can make a tobacco-related illness and death of the America’s past, not the future of America.