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Bill cracks down on advertising aimed at teens

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today applauded Senate passage of the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, landmark tobacco regulation legislation that will help prevent irresponsible cigarette and tobacco advertising targeted to young people and crack down on cigarette sales to underage teens. The legislation gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the legal authority to regulate the tobacco industry in order to reduce teen use and pays for these new efforts by imposing a user fee on tobacco product manufacturers and importers.

"This bipartisan legislation cracks down on irresponsible tobacco industry practices in order to reduce teen tobacco use, and that's good news for our children, our families, and our economy," said Shaheen. "This year alone, 6,300 children in New Hampshire will try cigarettes for the first time, and one-third of them will become life-long smokers. Cigarette addiction causes numerous health problems that lead to tragically shortened lives, and this human cost is matched by an unsustainable economic cost as our nation spends almost $100 billion each year addressing tobacco-related health issues. This legislation tackles those serious health and economic threats head on, and I was proud to cosponsor and support it."

This year, tobacco companies will spend an estimated $128 million on marketing in New Hampshire alone, much of it aimed at children and teens. Studies have found that children are three times more sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by marketing than by peer pressure. As a result, the American Lung Association estimates that nearly 20% of twelfth-grade students smoke cigarettes daily, exposing them to increased risk for lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, emphysema and other deadly diseases. Over the past week, Shaheen visited a health education class at Pinkerton Academy in Derry and a hospital in Exeter to discuss teen smoking and why she cosponsored the legislation.

The legislation gives the FDA the legal authority to regulate tobacco products and limit sales and marketing to young people. The legislation passed in the Senate with broad bipartisan support 79-17. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Cracks Down on Sales to Young People. Almost every state outlaws cigarette sales to children under 18, but surveys show that those laws are rarely enforced and frequently violated. Under the legislation, the FDA will have the power to limit the sale of cigarettes to face-to-face transactions in which the age of the purchaser can be verified by identification. This means an end to self-service displays and vending machine sales. There must also be serious enforcement efforts with real penalties for those caught selling tobacco products to children.
  • Curbs Irresponsible Advertising Aimed at Children and Teens. The tobacco industry currently spends more than $13 billion per year on advertising, and much that money is spent in ways designed to tempt children to start smoking before they are mature enough to appreciate the enormity of the health risk. Nearly 90% of smokers begin as children and are addicted by the time they reach adulthood. This legislation will empower the FDA to prevent industry advertising designed to appeal to children wherever it will be seen by children.
  • Helps Smokers Kick the Habit by Reducing Toxic Substances in Tobacco Products. Over 40 million Americans are currently addicted to cigarettes. The legislation grants the FDA the power to take the necessary steps to help addicted smokers overcome their addiction by making tobacco products less toxic. Under the legislation, the FDA will have the authority to reduce or remove hazardous ingredients from cigarettes to the extent that it becomes scientifically feasible.