July 22, 2009

21CN: Adventists Join in Commending U.S. Anti-Smoking Bill

Adventists Join in Commending
U.S. Anti-Smoking Bill
Legislation aims to curb underage smoking

Adventist News Network
capSeventh-day Adventist anti-smoking advocates are among more than 1,000 public health, faith, and other non-governmental groups applauding a new law heralded as the strongest action ever taken by the United States government to reduce tobacco use.
Signed into law June 22 by President Barack Obama, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act is expected to give unprecedented authority to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to restrict tobacco manufacture and marketing, with particular focus on keeping kids smoke-free, anti-smoking activists say.

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President Barack Obama speaks at a bill signing ceremony for sweeping new anti-tobacco legislation June 22 in the White House Rose Garden. Anti-smoking advocates are praising the bill, which gives the nation’s Food and Drug Administration broad authority to restrict tobacco use. [photo: DeWitt S. Williams/ANN]


The bill, which comes 45 years after the U.S. Surgeon General first linked smoking and lung cancer, will impose higher taxes on cigarettes, further restrict tobacco advertising, and ban what the White House calls “misleading” claims, such as “light” or “low-tar.” It also aims to halt illegal sales of tobacco products to children, ban candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes, and allow the FDA to lower the amount of nicotine in tobacco products.

Following years of relative inaction from the government on the issue of tobaccos, the bill is a “step in the right direction,” said Peter Landless, associate director for the Adventist world church’s department of Health Ministries.
The Adventist Church, whose Five Day Stop Smoking Plan was one of the first smoking cessation programs, now largely partners with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart and Lung Associations.
“We commend them for leading the way on this legislation," said DeWitt S. Williams, director of Health Ministries for the church’s North American region and a member of Faith United Against Tobacco, a coalition of anti-smoking denominational leaders.
Williams, who was present during the bill signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, said he shared Obama’s hope that the bill will better protect children from tobacco addiction.
“It’s good to see Adventists getting active again,” Williams said, citing the many letters written and phone calls made by church members urging their Congressional representatives to vote for the bill.