Letter to the Editor

Thanks for protecting children

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Parents can feel safer knowing that Big Tobacco will no longer be able to prey on children with despicable and manipulative marketing practices, thanks to recent actions taken by the president and Congress.

Fifty years after tobacco smoke was found to be hazardous to health, a rogue industry will finally be subject to strong regulation. This is a historic moment for public health in this country. In the absence of meaningful regulation, the tobacco industry has had dangerously wide latitude to pursue its only goal to addict more customers and stop current users from quitting.

Every day 3,500 children try a cigarette for the first time. Another 1,000 children become addicted smokers. One-third of those addicted children will eventually die prematurely as a result of their smoking.

Granting the FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, sale and marketing of tobacco products will go a long way to reduce this deadly toll.

Big Tobacco will no longer be able to entice children with candy and fruit-flavored products or flashy advertising. And the industry will be required to disclose the ingredients in its products, including arsenic and polonium, two of the world's most potent poisons.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other public health advocates have fought more than a decade for this critical lifesaving law. Mr. President, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, thank you and your colleagues for reining in Big Tobacco. Thank you for protecting our children.

SHARON ANN SPENCE, Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Perryville, Mo.