battle against cigarettes and tobacco has been around for a long time. As the authors A. Lee Fritschler and James M. Hoefler point out in their book Smoking and Politics there has always been a tug of war over the "golden leaf," the paradox that strict regulation of the business meant a windfall for the government.
Concern about the health consequences of smoking predates the "modern era" by nearly four centuries. In 1604, for example, King James I of England lambasted smoking as, "a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the Nose, harmeful to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomless" (as quoted in Sullum, 1998, p 18). King James subsequently raised the tax on tobacco by 1000%, deriving significant revenues for his coffers. This illustrates the profound dilemma that has confront policy decision makers ever since: whatever its health consequences, tobacco has long been truly a "golden leaf' for farmers and politicians alike. Its role in the very earliest commerce between England and the American colonies is legendary, as is its role in contemporary politics (Taylor, 1984; Fritschler & Hoefler, 1996). (http://tigger.uic.edu/~fjc/Presentations/Papers/handfinal.pdf).
The battle over tobacco did not start in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The real battle over tobacco began in 1936 with the passage of the Tobacco Control Act. This act sets out the laws and regulations concerning the tobacco growing states and their ability to form compacts and federal funds for a tobacco commission.
Perhaps the most important law that was passed concerning tobacco was the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965. For a long time, this defined the law in tobacco and cigarette regulations.
The bill, H.R. 2248 was a bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so that it would be applicable to smoking products. H.R 3014, H.R. 407 and H.R. 7051 were bills that would regulate the labeling and advertising of cigarettes. H.R. 4244 A would provide that cigarettes sold in interstate and foreign commerce would have a that they may be dangerous to a person's health. The laws also required that the package show the nicotine and tar content of each cigarette.
During the thirty years since the passage of the Federal Cigarette and Labeling Act and 1994, when Mississippi filed the first of twenty two stat lawsuits to recoup millions of dollars from tobacco companies for the Medicaid bills of smokers, Congress and the American public waged a slow war on tobacco producers. In 1971, all broadcast advertising was banned. In 1990, smoking was banned on all interstate buses and all domestic airline flights lasting six hours or less. In 1994, Mississippi filed the first of 22 state lawsuits seeking to recoup millions of dollars from tobacco companies for smokers' Medicaid bills. In 1995, President Clinton announced that the FDA would regulate all forms of tobacco, and would pay special attention to sales and advertising aimed at minors. Several other bills were passed during that time as well, like the Cigarette Safety Act of 1984 and the Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986. The former act established an interagency commission on cigarette and little cigar fire safety. The commission was charged with determining the feasibility and consequences of developing cigarettes and little cigars that would be less likely to ignite upholstered furniture or mattresses. The later act basically requires all the provisions of the 1965 cigarette labeling and advertising act to smokeless tobacco. It requires that the public be informed about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, including warning requirements, ingredient reporting, and enforcement.
Why did it take so long for the FDA to begin regulating cigarettes? Although there were some laws, they were not nearly as stringent as they should have been.
Although scientists have known since before World War II that the use of tobacco products was detrimental to health and researchers could cause a direct correlation between smoking and the FTC's decision to make the cigarette companies label their products?
The one common factor in all the decisions, regulations and/or lack of regulation is money. The cigarette companies staved off regulation for so long because they have money. Money used to lobby congress, and money to run amazing P.R campaigns that are designed to foster doubt about the true nature of cigarettes.
In the 1950's the tobacco industry created a group called the Tobacco Institute Research Committee. The committee ran a full-paged ad, titled "A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers." This ad ran in over 400 newspapers and acknowledged that tobacco companies had a "special" responsibility to the public. In the TIRC promised to sponsor "independent research" that would find out the truth about "smoking and health." Less then 10% of TIRC's budget was actually allocated to research, and in 1963, TIRC changed its name to the Council for Tobacco Research. In addition to this, tobacco companies set up a separate PR and lobbying organization in 1958. By 1990, the Public Relations Journal was calling the Tobacco Institute one of the most "formidable public relations/lobbying machines in history." At that time the Tobacco Institute was spending $20 million a year and employing 120 PR professionals per year to fight the Surgeon General, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association (Stauber & Rampton, 1995).
The question then is, how did congress, the president, the citizens and other finally break the power of the tobacco lobby? The answer lies in the previously mentioned decision made by the FDA to regulate cigarettes, much like it regulates drugs and foodstuffs. Below is a brief statement from the FDA decision to assert jurisdiction over the tobacco industry. David Kessler made this important decision that would help change the way America thinks about smoking.
Cigarettes, which deliver a pharmacologically active dose of nicotine to the body through inhalation, and smokeless tobacco, which delivers a pharmacologically active dose of nicotine to the body through buccal absorption, share this distinguishing feature. Like the products that FDA traditionally regulates, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are inhaled or placed within the human body; like many of these products, they deliver a pharmacologically active substance to the bloodstream; and like these products, they have potentially dangerous effects. Indeed, no products cause more death and disease than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
FDA is asserting jurisdiction over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco under the drug and device provisions of the Act. Specifically, FDA has concluded that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are combination products consisting of nicotine, a drug that causes addiction and other significant pharmacological effects on the human body, and device components that deliver nicotine to the body (Federal Register, 1996).
In the 1990's, medical studies estimated that 400,000 of the 50 million smokers in the United States died each year from tobacco related diseases, like lung cancer or emphezyma. The studies also concluded that Smoking was a contributing factor in the deaths of over half of the smokers in the country. Tobacco opponents now had irrefutable proof of the dangers of smoking and started lobbying even harder for strict new regulations that would work to prevent youthful addiction and to protect the public's rights to live in a smoke-free environment.
Scientist not only had a correlation between diseases and smoking, now the activists were armed with scientific causation. While correlation is not strong enough to hold up in court, and many lawsuits against the tobacco industry were dismissed because only correlative evidence could be shown, people now had proof that tobacco industry was knowingly and wittingly selling an addictive and toxic product and could be held liable for medical expenses.
Although the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision made in 2001, found that the FDA does not have the jurisdiction to regulate the tobacco industry, the tobacco industry itself is still under the control of Congress because it deals in interstate commerce and international commerce. Furthermore, while a judge in 2000 did strike out part of the federal level Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco companies, basically the part deals with recovering Medicare expenses for ill smokers, the federal charges of racketeering continue.
In 2001, a Presidential Commission releases its ideas and research on what tobacco farmers can grow instead of tobacco. In addition to that, Congress is currently studying a way to give the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry. The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, campaign for tobacco free kids and the American Lung Association published a document in April of this past year outlining exactly what would be needed for Congress to grant that control to the FDA.
Philip Morris U.S.A. strongly supports the passage of legislation that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) meaningful and effective authority to regulate cigarettes.
Even cigarette makers like Phillip Morris want s the FDA to regulate cigarettes. In a press release issued earlier this year, Phillip Morris…