The report calls on Congress and the president to give FDA the
authority to enforce standards for nicotine reduction and to
regulate companies' claims that their products reduce exposure or
"We propose aggressive steps to end the tobacco problem --
that is, to reduce tobacco use so substantially that it is no longer
a significant public health problem. This report offers a blueprint
for putting the nation on a course for achieving that goal over the
next two decades," said Richard J. Bonnie, director of the Institute
of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia
School of Law. Bonnie was chairman of the committee that prepared
"Unfortunately, cigarettes are one of the most dangerous consumer
products ever marketed," Bonnie said at a briefing.
The report notes that cigarettes are unique in that they contain
carcinogens and other dangerous toxins and would be banned under
federal law if these statutes did not expressly exempt tobacco.
A bill currently before Congress would give FDA authority to
regulate tobacco, but the head of the agency has expressed
Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach said that if the FDA reduced nicotine
levels in cigarettes, people would change their smoking habits to
maintain current levels of the addictive drug.
"We could find ourselves in the conundrum of having made a
decision about nicotine only to have made the public health
radically worse. And that is not the position FDA is in; we approve
products that enhance health, not destroy it," von Eschenbach said.
Cigarette maker Philip Morris USA has been supporting the
legislation that would give FDA power to regulate the industry.
"FDA regulation creates a uniform set of federal standards for
the manufacture and marketing of all tobacco products," Michael E.
Szymanczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of Philip Morris
USA, said earlier this year.
In addition to requiring a cut in nicotine, the institute -- a
branch of the National Academy of Sciences
-- called for higher taxes on tobacco, nationwide indoor smoking
bans and other steps to reduce smoking.
[to top of second column]
Also on Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for
the elimination of smoking from movies accessible to children and
Cigarette smoking is largely a 20th century development, the
report noted. Prior to that Americans consumed tobacco primarily as
chewing tobacco or cigars.
In 1900 adults smoked approximately 54 cigarettes per year, the
report said. By 1963 per capita consumption had risen to 4,345
cigarettes per year.
The report said that while smoking in the United States has
declined by more than 50 percent since 1964, tobacco use still
claims about 440,000 lives every year and secondhand smoke causes
another 50,000 deaths annually. Smoking-related health costs are
estimated to be $89 billion a year.
Other recommendations of the report include:
Dedicating $15 to
$20 per capita annually of the proceeds from higher taxes or
other resources to fund tobacco control efforts in each state.
health insurance plans to provide smoking cessation program
outlets that sell tobacco products.
additional efforts aimed at curbing youth interest in smoking
and access to tobacco, including bans on online sales of tobacco
products and direct-to-consumer shipments.
advertising and promotional displays to text-only,
large pictorial warnings on the harmful effects of smoking --
similar to those required in Canada -- on all cigarette packs
The National Academy of Sciences is an independent organization
chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific
matters. The report was sponsored by the American Legacy Foundation,
the anti-smoking organization established in 1999 as part of the
settlement between state attorneys general and the tobacco industry.
from file received from AP
Digital; article by Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press writer]