The proposed legislation to have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate tobacco is "window-dressing masquerading as legislation," according to Alan Blum, M.D., director of the University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society. Putting the country's most lethal consumer product under control of the FDA will perpetuate the myth long favored by the industry that cigarettes can be made safer. The industry itself long ago started a PR campaign to assure people it was possible to identify and remove any component of smoke that was found to cause disease, and went on to leverage public fear of smoking to market gimmicks like filters that were "just what the doctor ordered" and conferred "double-barreled health protection." Lobbying to remove cigarette ads from TV and put weak, unobtrusive warning labels on cigarette packs has also served the industry's interests by giving them legal cover and saving thousands in advertising costs while doing little to actually restrain tobacco promotion. With the passage of the "Marlboro Preservation Act," the FDA -- which already has difficulty assuring the public that peanuts and pistachios are safe -- would now be handed regulation of cigarettes. While well intentioned, the bill is misguided. It ought to carry its own warning: "This legislation is deceptive, and it will prove devastating to public health."
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