CONCORD, NH – A new report released by public health organizations and youth advocates from throughout New Hampshire describes how tobacco manufacturers take advantage of the lack of government regulation to design and market products that recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction to nicotine, and discourage current users from quitting. Responding to declining smoking rates, tobacco manufacturers are finding novel ways to entice new users, especially children, and discourage current users from quitting.
New Hampshire’s public health leaders urged Congress to stop the tobacco industry’s harmful practices and stand up for public health by passing legislation that would grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and Rep. Paul Hodes are cosponsors of this legislation. Senator Judd Gregg voted for the bill last August as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The organizations called on Senator John Sununu (R-NH) to join the rest of the New Hampshire delegation and support and cosponsor this life-saving legislation.
Despite all the death and disease they cause, tobacco products are virtually unregulated to protect consumers’ health. This continuing lack of regulation allows the tobacco companies to market their deadly products to children, deceive consumers about the harm their products cause, and resist even the most minimal steps to make their products less harmful.
"The harmful and addictive effects of tobacco use have long been recognized by the public health community. It is time to take serious action in the fight against youth smoking, and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act does just that," said Senator Judd Gregg. "This legislation will provide the much needed authority over tobacco products which is essential to help protect the public, and kids nationwide, from the dangerous effects of tobacco. I applaud the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, as well as the many students from New Hampshire who have worked with them, for their efforts to combat youth smoking. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to gain support for this critical bipartisan legislation."
In New Hampshire, tobacco use causes $564 million in health care bills each year and kills 1,800 residents; 20.5 percent of New Hampshire high school students currently smoke.
The report was issued by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Breathe NH is a local health partner of this initiative. The report details key trends including:
• Novel smokeless products: New and more novel smokeless tobacco products have been marketed as ways to help smokers sustain their addiction in the growing number of places where they cannot smoke. In addition to traditional chewing and spit tobacco, smokeless tobacco now comes in teabag-like pouches and even in dissolvable, candy-like tablets.
• Targeted products and marketing: New products and marketing have been aimed at women, girls and other populations. The most recent example is R.J. Reynolds’ Camel No. 9 cigarettes, a pink-hued version that one newspaper dubbed "Barbie Camel" because of marketing that appealed to girls.
• Unproven health claims: A growing list of products have been marketed with unproven and misleading claims that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Claims have included "All of the taste… Less of the toxin" (Brown & Williamson’s Advance cigarettes) and "Reduced carcinogens. Premium taste" (Vector Tobacco’s Omni Cigarettes).
• Undisclosed Product Designs: The report also illustrates how tobacco manufacturers control nicotine delivery to maximize addiction while using flavorings and other additives to make their products taste milder, easier to inhale and more attractive to children and first time smokers. A few aspects of product design not disclosed to consumers include the use of :
• Ammonia to increase the speed and efficiency of nicotine absorption.
• Eugenol and Menthol to numb the throat to minimize irritation from smoke.
• Glycerin and Cocoa to enable deep lung exposure (Cocoa produces carcinogens when burned)
• Sugars and Chocolate to make smoke milder and make cigarettes more appealing, especially to children and first time smokers.
• Filter Technology and Ventilation Holes that allows deep penetration of nicotine into the lungs of the smoker and increase the addictiveness of the product.
The report makes it clear that tobacco products are highly engineered nicotine delivery devices finely tuned to appeal to the taste, feel, smell and other sensations of new and addicted smokers.
Cheryl Cutting, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society, described the terrible toll tobacco has taken on her family. "Half my family is gone because of tobacco. Sadly, my family’s story is not unique. We need to alter the future and stand up to the tobacco companies. Their actions are an insult to everyone who has been affected by the devastating consequences of using tobacco. It is time to stop our kids from being treated as guinea pigs and start holding tobacco manufacturers accountable. We thank Senator Gregg, Rep. Shea-Porter and Rep. Hodes for their leadership and ask Senator Sununu to support this life-saving legislation and stand with New Hampshire’s kids."
Bipartisan legislation pending before Congress (S. 625/H.R. 1108) would give the FDA authority to:
• Restrict tobacco advertising and promotions, especially to children.
• Ban candy-flavored cigarettes.
• Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, changes to their products and research about the health effects of their products.
• Require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients.
• Prohibit health claims about so-called "reduced risk" products that are not scientifically proven or that would discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start.
• Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products.
• Prohibit terms such as "low-tar," "light" and "mild" that have misled consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer than others.
The Senate bill, sponsored by U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and John Cornyn (R-TX), has 56 co-sponsors, while the House bill, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Tom Davis (R-VA), has 218 co-sponsors. The legislation has passed a Senate committee and House subcommittee. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote on the legislation on April 2.
The report can be found at: www.tobaccofreekids.org/productsreport