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John R.
Democrat RI

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  • Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

    by Senator Jack Reed

    Posted on 2014-01-16

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    REED. Mr. President, this week is the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's landmark report on smoking and health. I join with some of my colleagues who have taken the floor this week to commemorate this anniversary.

    Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry's report was groundbreaking. For the first time, the government warned that ``smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States''. This fundamentally changed how our country thought about smoking and was the basis for many of the successful tobacco control efforts of the past 50 years.

    Indeed, according to CDC data, in 1965 the year after the Surgeon General's report--approximately 42 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes. By 2011, that rate had dropped by more than half to 19 percent. Hopefully this trend will continue, leading to better health for millions of Americans.

    Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked on initiatives to discourage our children from becoming smokers, supported measures to ban smoking in schools, and worked to enhance the FDA's ability to regulate the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

    We have come a long way since I proposed legislation in the late nineties to deny tobacco companies tax deductions for advertising to children. I was an original cosponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which became law in 2009 and incorporated the goals in my bill to keep the tobacco industry from targeting children as new customers. This law provides the FDA with the explicit authority to protect the public from deceptive cigarette advertisements, prevent the targeting of minors, and remove certain harmful ingredients from cigarettes.

    This was an important effort. But we also must continue to address new tobacco-related concerns as they arise. For instance, I was pleased to join several of my colleagues last year in urging the FDA to issue deeming regulations asserting its regulatory authority over e- cigarettes and other tobacco products, and it is my hope that it will do so soon.

    We have made great strides during the last 50 years in reducing smoking rates and preventing tobacco-related illnesses, but we can and must do more. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue these efforts, which I believe are critically important to our Nation's long-term health.


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