News Archive

Sodium Watch

posted on Mon, Jan 14 2013 9:17 am by Shari A. Dawkins

Public health leaders worldwide are advocating for voluntary industry standards, sodium reduction goals and public policies to get the excess salt out of our diets. The United Kingdom launched a public education campaign in 2004 with the character “Sid the Slug” to warn the public that salt can cause harmful health effects to humans too.

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November 28, 2012

Critical Congenital Heart Defect & Pulse Oximetry Screening: A Public Health Law Opportunity

It’s always gratifying to see laws and regulations catch up to the science of public health. At the National Public Health Law Conference in October, I had the opportunity to pitch a public health legal or policy intervention to a panel of experts about Critical Congenital Heart Defect (CCHD) screening. Read more.

November 20, 2012

Compounding Pharmacies: Using the Law to Protect Public Health

We all rely upon laws and regulations to ensure that pharmaceutical products meet high safety standards. So when over 400 people become ill and 30 people die as the result of meningitis-tainted steroid injections, we have to consider how we can use the law as a tool to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. Read more.

November 19, 2012

Lessons from Sandy: Using Social Media in Future Disasters

In late October, Superstorm Sandy smacked the Northeastern states, and sparked a transition from traditional methods of emergency communication (e.g., televised press conferences and radio emergency broadcasting), to the use of social media. Read more.

November 13, 2012

Medicaid Expansion and Public Health

The Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision left most of the law intact, including its many important public health provisions. However, the Court’s decision also created a loophole that may leave millions of Americans without access to affordable insurance. Read more.

October 5, 2011

FDA and NIH announce joint study on tobacco use and risk perceptions

The Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health announced a joint, large-scale, national study of over 40,000 tobacco users and those at risk for tobacco use.  The study will monitor and assess the behavioral and health impacts of new government tobacco regulations.  The initiative, called the Tobacco Control Act National Longitudinal Study of Tobacco Users, is the first large-scale NIH/FDA collaboration on tobacco regulatory research since Congress granted FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.  Read more.

September 15, 2011

Free Tobacco Cessation Resources

Looking for resources to help smokers quit on the Great American Smoke Out this November 17th? BecomeAnEX.org is a free, interactive website that shows smokers how to re-learn life without cigarettes.  The site, developed by Legacy in partnership with Mayo Clinic, offers a free, personalized quit plan and an online support community to help people prepare to quit and stay quit.  To help you gear up for quit day, Legacy is offering free EX® info cards and downloadable EX® tear-off flyers. Orders must be received by October 24th for delivery by November 16th. Order and download your free resources here.

August 26, 2011

Deadline for Comments to FDA on Issues Related to Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications

Please note that Friday, September 23, is the deadline for submitting open comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Center for Tobacco Products on scientific evaluation of modified risk tobacco products (MRTP) applications. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (the Tobacco Control Act) establishes a requirement for persons to obtain an order from FDA before they can introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce MRTPs and outlines the requirements that must be met before the FDA will issue such an order. The Tobacco Control Act also directs the FDA to get input from appropriate scientific and medical experts on the design and conduct of studies and surveillance required for assessment and ongoing review of MRTP applications. For information on providing comments, click on this link:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0443-0001.

Comments will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on September 23, 2011. Please note that comments can be submitted at any time, but to be considered in the Draft Guidance, comments must be submitted by this deadline.

July 7, 2011

More than One Billion People Protected by Tobacco Control Policies

 Dramatic headway has been made in global tobacco control since 2008, according to a new report just released by the World Health Organization (WHO).  Fifty-five percent of the world’s population is now covered by at least one of the WHO’s MPOWER suite of six effective anti-tobacco policies.  The greatest gains were made in requiring large graphic health warnings on packages of tobacco.   Bloomberg Philanthropies has helped fuel this progress through its six-year $375-million initiative to promote tobacco control interventions in 15 low-and middle-income nations that are home to two-thirds of the world’s smokers.  Read more.  Read the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.

July 1, 2011

Wave of State Laws Preempting Local Nutrition-Related Legislation

Several state legislatures are passing laws that prohibit municipalities and other local governments from adopting regulations aimed at rising obesity and improving public health, such as requiring restaurants to provide nutritional information on menus or to eliminate trans fats from the foods they serve.  Public health advocates worry that the new preemption laws – often supported by the restaurant industry -- will stall a movement among cities and counties that are establishing a range of policies and tools designed to reduce obesity among their residents.   Read more.

June 26, 2011

CDC Names Decade’s Top 10 Public Health Achievements

Fighting tobacco use, controlling infectious diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis, improving motor vehicle safety, and reducing heart disease and death have been named by the CDC as among the 10 top public health achievements of the first decade of the 21st century.  Other achievements include improvements in vaccine-preventable diseases, better maternal and infant health, better cancer prevention, improved occupational safety and public safety preparedness, and aggressive steps that have led to fewer childhood lead poisonings.  Still, much more needs to be done to protect and promote public health, says CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden.  Read more.  Read the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

June 24, 2011

FDA to Conduct Independent Review of Menthol Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it will conduct an independent review of research on the public health impact of menthol cigarettes.  This decision to conduct more study on whether to outlaw menthol cigarettes disappointed many in the tobacco control community, since a blue ribbon scientific advisory committee, which was mandated to study the issue, already concluded in March that menthol cigarettes harm the public health.  Menthol cigarettes are one of the few growth sectors in the cigarette market, and have led to an increase in smokers – particularly teens, African Americans, and those with low incomes.  Read more.   Read a statement from the American Legacy Foundation.

June 21, 2011

FDA Unveils Graphic New Cigarette Warning Labels

On June 21, the Food and Drug Administration announced nine new graphic warnings for cigarette packages – the most significant new labels in more than twenty-five years. The new warnings, which depict the negative health impact of cigarettes, are required to cover at least 50 percent of every pack of cigarettes sold in the U.S. by mid-2013.  Manufacturers are required to place them on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads by no later than September 2012.

The new labels replace the smaller, text-only warnings that have appeared on cigarette packs for more than two decades.  In addition to graphic images, they include warnings, accompanied by the phone number 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a smoking cessation resource.  According to the FDA website, “The introduction of these warnings is expected to have a significant public health impact by decreasing the number of smokers, resulting in lives saved, increased life expectancy and lower medical costs.”  Read more.

May 20, 2011

Consortium Submits Comments to FDA on Including all Tobacco Products in Sampling Restrictions

On May 20, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and Public Health Law and Policy filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration, asking it to amend its “Draft Guidance for Industry: Compliance with Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco to Protect Children and Adolescents.”  The Guidance states that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act) does not restrict the distribution of free samples of cigars, little cigars, pipe tobacco and other “tobacco products.” 

Our comments point out that the 2009 Tobacco Control Act clearly indicates that cigars, little cigars and pipe tobacco meet the definition of “tobacco products” that are included in federal regulations restricting sampling. We argue that the language in the Draft Guidance that exempts cigars and other tobacco products from sampling regulations is contrary to the intent of the Tobacco Control Act and would create a dangerous loophole in the Act’s strict sampling restrictions.  We urge the FDA to amend the Draft Guidance to ensure that offering free samples of all tobacco products is illegal.  Read our comments to the FDA.

April 15, 2011

Consortium and Partners File Amicus Brief in NYC POS Graphic Warning Lawsuit

On April 15, 2011, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium and several other national public health partners filed an amicus curiae brief at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of New York City’s requirement that graphic warnings be posted in retail stores to warn consumers of the dangers of tobacco products.  Our brief argues that the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act does not preempt, or prohibit, the City from having such a requirement. Joining the Consortium on this brief were Action on Smoking and Health, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association in New York, the American Thoracic Society, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, the Framework Convention Alliance, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, and the National Association of Local Boards of Health.

Our amicus brief may be of interest to communities and local legal counsel who are hesitant to consider point-of-sale tobacco advertising restrictions while the 23-34 94th St. Grocery, Corp. v. New York Board of Health et al. litigation is pending.  Click here to read our amicus brief.

Jan. 12, 2011

Consortium Submits Comments to FDA on Graphic Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertising

On January 11, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration for consideration regarding the agency’s proposed rule requiring larger and more prominent health warnings on cigarette packages and cigarette advertising beginning in 2012.  The agency proposed a series of graphic warning labels to accompany new textual warning statements, and offered thirty-six possible images for public comment.

The Consortium’s comments point out that the U.S. has fallen behind much of the international community in regulating cigarette labeling and advertising, and recommends that the FDA look to research from other countries, which demonstrates that the inclusion of larger and more vivid graphic health warnings better conveys the negative health consequences of smoking.  We encourage the FDA to strengthen its proposed graphic cigarette warning labels by enlarging the warnings, making the photographic images more vivid, eliminating cartoons, and including cessation information. We also suggest that the FDA conduct research to assess which graphic warnings may be most effective in reaching and resonating with priority populations; that it revise and rotate the warning labels regularly; and that, if considerable questions are raised about the efficacy of the proposed labels, it create or select more effective images,.

Read our comments to the FDA on graphic warnings for cigarette packages and advertising.

Jan. 3, 2011

NYC to Appeal Judge’s Decision Striking Down City’s Graphic Tobacco Warning Ads

Last week, a federal judge struck down New York City’s health regulation requiring convenience stores and other tobacco retailers to post graphic warning signs on the grave dangers of tobacco use – either where tobacco products are displayed or at the cash register. The signs showed graphic images of a diseased lung, a brain damaged by a stroke, and a decaying tooth and gums, and included information about the dangers of smoking, along with a quitline number. 

Judge Jed S. Rakoff of United States District Court in Manhattan wrote that although the regulation was well-intentioned, it violated federal law.  He said that under the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, only the federal government has the legal authority to regulate the advertising or promotion of cigarettes, and in his view, the signage at issue related to the promotion of cigarettes. 

The health department issued a statement saying the city “strongly disagrees” with the ruling and that the signs portray factual messages about the dangers of smoking and advise that quitting is the best way for smokers to avoid contracting smoking-related illnesses at the “exact moment” smokers are making purchasing decisions. The city’s lawyer said they plan to appeal the decision. 

The suit was brought by a convenience store trade group and three large cigarette manufacturers, Phillip Morris, Lorillard and R.J. Reynolds.

Read the opinion in 23-34 94th St. Grocery Corp. v. New York City Board of Health.

Minnesota Court of Appeals Reinstates Big “Light” Cigarette Class Action Lawsuit

Tobacco advocates are applauding the recent decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals to reinstate portions of a nearly decade-long class action “light” cigarette lawsuit against Philip Morris.  The lawsuit claims the tobacco company misled consumers by marketing Marlboro Lights as safer than regular cigarettes and engaged in a ten-year pattern of false advertising, consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices regarding light cigarettes in violation of Minnesota consumer-protection statutes.  Plaintiffs seek disgorgement of cigarette-company profits, restitution for the cost of cigarettes purchased by class members, and legal fees.  This decision could significantly impact the ability of smokers to file lawsuits alleging a violation of the state’s consumer protection laws. 

The 46-page opinion, written by a three-judge Appeals Court panel, affirms the district court’s certification of the plaintiff class, noting that the district court “found that all members of the class have been similarly injured by Philip Morris’s alleged lengthy course of prohibited conduct.  And the record supports this finding.” The court rejected the tobacco company’s claims that Minnesota’s 1998 settlement with the major tobacco companies, the 2009 federal tobacco legislation, and the statute of limitations barred this lawsuit.  Philip Morris has indicated it may appeal the ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Read the opinion in Curtis, et al. vs. Altria Group and Philip Morris.

Read the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s amicus curiae brief in this case.

Dec. 18, 2010

Boston jury orders Lorillard to pay $81 million penalty

In a groundbreaking decision, a jury in Suffolk Superior Court, Massachusetts, ordered tobacco company Lorillard to pay the estate of deceased smoker Marie Evans $81 million in punitive damages for her wrongful death.  Lorillard gave Ms. Evans free Newport cigarettes when she was just nine years old, when she was living in a Boston housing project.  At first, she traded the cigarettes for candy, but by the time she was 13, she began smoking them, starting a lifelong addiction that ended with her death of lung cancer at 54.  Evans v. Lorillard is the first case to claim the cigarette manufacturer targeted minorities, including young children, with samples of Newport menthol-flavored cigarettes. The punitive damages award, designed to punish bad conduct and deter future bad contact, is in addition to $71 million in compensatory damages that the jury also awarded the estate, bringing the total liability in the trial to $152 million – the largest verdict to date in an individual smoking and health case.  Lorillard is expected to appeal.

>Watch CVN recording of Phase 1 closing arguments in Evans v. Lorillard, as well as Phase 2 of the trial, plus Phase 1 and Phase 2 verdicts.

Dec. 9, 2010

New Surgeon General’s Report: Tobacco Smoke Exposure Causes Immediate Damage

Even slight exposure to tobacco smoke, including occasional smoking  and secondhand smoke, causes immediate harm which can lead to serious illness or death, according to today’s release of How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General.  This 30th Surgeon General Report details new scientific findings on how tobacco smoke damages the human body, and confirms the major finding that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  The report describes why it is so difficult to quit smoking, and presents scientific evidence to spur smokers to get help quitting and to encourage policymakers and public health professionals to implement tobacco control policies.

Copies of the full report, executive summary and an easy-to-read guide on the report can be downloaded at www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/index.html.

Dec. 8, 2010

Federal Court Rules FDA Can’t Regulate E-Cigarettes as Drug-Delivery Devices

In a setback for the Food and Drug Administration and other public health organizations, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. has ruled that the Food and Drug Administration should regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, rather than as drug-delivery devices, which have more stringent requirements.  The ruling means e-cigarette manufacturers won't have to conduct expensive clinical trials to prove to the FDA that the products are safe and effective as smoking-cessation aids.  The FDA, concerned about the marketing claims of e-cigarettes, which contain highly addictive nicotine, has argued that the products should be banned as unapproved drug delivery devices, or regulated under the strict requirements of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. A three-judge panel federal appeals court backed a lower-court ruling that the devices should be considered under the FDA's authority over tobacco, which means they would follow the same restrictions as traditional cigarettes and tobacco products.

>Read the decision in Sotera, Inc. v. Food and Drug Administration

Dec. 2, 2010

Congress Passes Important Child Nutrition Bill

On Dec. 2, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, legislation to expand the school lunch program and set new standards to improve the quality of school meals by including more fruits and vegetables. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law shortly. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Update the nutrition standards of school meals.
  • Limit the sale of junk food in schools.
  • Provide greater reimbursement and more training to schools so they can serve more nutritious meals.
  • Improve and simplify the application process.
  • Increase the use of foods from local and regional sources.
  • Support improved school nutrition and physical activity wellness policies.

Read highlights of the Healthy, Free Kids Act of 2010.

Dec. 1, 2010

Preparing for the Future of HIV/AIDS in Africa: A Shared Responsibility

The Institute of Medicine has just released a report that identifies strategies for African nations and the United States to build African capacity—including human, scientific, technological, organizational, institutional, and/or resource capabilities—to prevent, treat, and care for HIV/AIDS.  On today, World AIDS Day 2010, it is helpful to remember that HIV/AIDS is a catastrophe globally but nowhere more so than in sub-Saharan Africa, which in 2008 accounted for 67 percent of cases worldwide and 91 percent of new infections. The magnitude of the epidemic in Africa is amplified in a region that lacks sufficient resources to meet the need for life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and at the same time is home to those who need it the most.

According to the World Health Organization’s most recent guidelines, just 36 percent of Africans needing ART are receiving it, and the need for treatment is expected to increase exponentially over the next decade. In order to offer solutions to the long-term burden of HIV/AIDS, the IOM explored affordable, sustainable strategies that both African nations and the United States can implement.  The IOM concludes that the burden of morbidity and mortality in Africa cannot be alleviated through treatment alone. Treatment can reach only a fraction of those who need it, and its costs are unsustainable. Greater emphasis must be placed on preventing new infections.

Read the Institute of Medicine's report, Preparing for the Future of HIV/AIDS in Africa: A Shared Responsibility.

Nov. 24, 2010

New Hampshire Court Certifies Light Cigarette Class Action Lawsuit Against Philip Morris

A New Hampshire state court this week certified a light cigarette class action brought under New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act in what could be the largest class action lawsuit ever in the state.  The suit alleges that Philip Morris engaged  in consumer fraud by unfairly and deceptively marketing Marlboro Lights cigarettes as delivering less tar and nicotine to smokers, and also being less hazardous, than regular cigarettes.  New Hampshire is now the third state, after Massachusetts and Michigan, to approve a class certification in a consumer protection lawsuit against the tobacco industry’s marketing of light cigarettes.  Lawrence et al. v. Philip Morris, USA, Inc.

For more information about “light” cigarette class actions, see the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s Legal Updates, Summer 2010 (PDF, 2.28 Mb) and Fall 2008 (PDF, 1.58 Mb).

Nov. 21, 2010

Healthy People 2020 Launch – December 2, 2010

On December 2, 2010, the CDC will release its Healthy People 2020 objectives, goals, and action plans. The Healthy People 2020 launch constitutes a public health roadmap with 10-year national objectives for improving the health of the nation.  For more information on Healthy People 2020, please visit www.healthypeople.gov,

Nov. 20, 2010

Uruguay Supreme Court Dismisses Philip Morris Tobacco Challenge

On November 19, Uruguay’s Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a constitutional challenge that Philip Morris brought against Uruguay’s tobacco control laws.  Earlier this year, the tobacco giant filed a complaint with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes of the World Bank, arguing that the country tobacco laws – requiring large warning labels on tobacco product packs and colored or plain packaging – violate a bilateral investment treaty and harm the tobacco company.  In its decision, the court said that it is “an essential duty of the state . . . to adopt all measures it considers necessary to maintain the collective health (of its citizens).” 

The court’s decision comes one day after Uruguay received support from more than 170 countries for its policy of putting public health before commercial interest.  Uruguay restrictions on smoking and tobacco products, introduced in March 2006, are the first of their kind in Latin America.  Last week, at the fourth session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the countries signed a World Health Organization tobacco control accord expressing “concern for actions by the tobacco industry which seek to subvert and undermine government policies to control tobacco consumption.”

>>For more information about Uruguay’s tobacco control, see the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s Legal Update – Fall 2010.

Nov. 18, 2010

States Cut Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs to Lowest Level Since 1999

This fiscal year states have slashed funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to the lowest levels since 1999, the year they first received tobacco settlement funds, according to a new report released by a coalition of major public health organizations.  Although the states will collect $25.3 billion revenue (Fiscal Year 2011) from the Master Tobacco Settlement and tobacco taxes, they will spend only 2 percent of it ($519.9 million) on programs to help smokers quit and prevent kids from smoking. 

Read the report, A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 12 Years Later.   See FY2011 rankings of funding for state tobacco prevention programs.

Nov. 17, 2010

Florida Jury Awards $80 Million to Plaintiff in Tobacco Lawsuit

After a recent winning streak for the tobacco industry in lawsuits claiming death and injuries due to smoking, a Florida jury has awarded $80 million – $8 million in compensatory damages and $72 million in punitive damages – against R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for its role in the death of James Cayce Horner, a 2-pack a day smoker who died in 1996 of lung cancer.  The jury found that R.J. Reynolds was 90 percent responsible for his death and the Horner was 10 percent at fault.   Thousands of tobacco lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts – part of the so-called Engle progeny cases, named after the Florida Supreme Court 2006 ruling that decertified the Engle lawsuit against the tobacco industry, but enabled factual findings made by the jury in the Engle class action to be used in future cases heard in Florida.

For more information about Engle progeny lawsuits, see the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s Fall 2010 Legal Update.

Nov. 10, 2010

Obama Administration Announces New National Tobacco Strategy, Including Graphic Warnings on Cigarette Packs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes bold health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements.  The Food and Drug Administration proposed large graphic warning labels for cigarettes – part of a broader strategy that will help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting. The FDA is seeking public comment before it selects the final nine graphic and textual warning statements that will be required no later than 2012.  The FDA will make this selection after a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature, public comments, and results from an 18,000 person study.  These health warnings on cigarettes and in cigarette advertisements are just the latest tobacco control initiatives resulting from decades of science and experience demonstrating what works to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences.

For more about the latest announcements about the new federal tobacco control strategy, go to www.hhs.gov/tobaccocontrol/index.html.

Nov. 3, 2010

South Dakota Voters Pass Comprehensive Statewide Smoke-free Law

On November 2, South Dakotans voters overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law.  The law extends a restriction on indoor smoking to include all bars, restaurants, casinos and video lottery establishments. With the addition of South Dakota, 63 percent of all Americans will now be protected by strong smoke-free laws that cover bars and restaurants.  South Dakota is the 29th state, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, to pass such a law. It is also the 16th state, along with Puerto Rico, to ban smoking in all state regulated gaming facilities.

Oct. 12, 2010

Public Health Law Center Submits Comments to FDA on Menu Labeling Law

On October 12, the Public Health Law Center, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, and NPLAN/Public Health Law & Policy filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration for agency consideration in implementing the new federal menu labeling law in ways that leave room for effective participation of states and local authorities.  The comments address how and where nutrition information should be disclosed, compliance and enforcement issues, and the preemption of state and local laws. They include recommendations regarding the FDA’s guidance documents and proposed regulations to help implement and enforce the federal menu labeling requirements.

Read our joint comments to the FDA on the federal menu labeling law.

Sept. 12, 2010

Legal Consortium Files Comments to FDA on Dissolvable Tobacco Products

 On September 17, the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration for agency consideration in evaluating the public health impact of dissolvable tobacco products.  The comments focus on weaknesses in the regulation of dissolvable tobacco products at the state and federal level.  These weaknesses increase the likelihood that dissolvable products, such as Ariva, Stonewall and Camel Orbs, will be used by youth and that tobacco users will continue to use tobacco.  The Consortium’s comments recommend several measures that the FDA could take to address gaps in regulation that increase access to these unhealthy products.  Read the Legal Consortium’s comments to the FDA on the impact of dissolvable tobacco use.

Sept. 7, 2010

People Should Smoke and Drink More, Says Russian FInance Minister

Russia’s Finance Minister Alexi Kudri has told people to smoke and drink more, explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services. Speaking as the Russian government announces plans to raise the duty on alcohol and cigarettes, Alexei Kudrin said that by smoking a pack, “You are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates. People should understand,” he told the Interfax news agency, “Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state.”

Alcohol and cigarette consumption are already extremely high in Russia, where 65 percent of the men smoke and the average Russian consumes 18 litres of alcoholic beverages (mainly vodka) per year, according to official statistics.  Russian duties on cigarettes are among the lowest in Europe, with most brands priced at around 40 roubles (85p) per pack and unfiltered cigarettes selling for much less. Read more.

Aug. 24, 2010

New Interactive STATE Tobacco Prevention Maps Available Online

The State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation (STATE) System is an electronic data warehouse containing up-to-date and historical state-level data on tobacco use prevention and control.  The STATE System, available at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/STATESystem, now includes five new interactive tobacco prevention and control maps:

  • A United States map featuring adult current cigarette use prevalence estimates from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) displaying data from 1995-2009 for all available US states and the District of Columbia.
  • A United States map featuring youth current cigarette use prevalence estimates from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) displaying data for odd years from 1995-2009 for all available US states and the District of Columbia.
  • A United States map featuring excise tax rates on packs of cigarettes from the Office on Smoking and Health STATE System Legislative Database displaying data from 1995-2010 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • A United States map featuring state laws on preemption of smoke-free indoor air, youth access, and advertising from the Office on Smoking and Health STATE System Legislative Database displaying data from 1995-2010 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • A United States map featuring state laws on smoke-free indoor air for private worksites, restaurants, and bars from the Office on Smoking and Health STATE System Legislative Database displaying data from 1995-2010 for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Aug. 13, 2010

FDA Announces Remaining Tobacco Retailer Compliance Training Sessions

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products will hold the remaining four of five live training sessions on federal tobacco regulations in September 2010 in Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, and Los Angeles, CA.  Retailers who sell tobacco are encouraged to attend in person or participate by phone or by webcast. Locations and dates for the remaining sessions include:  

  • Atlanta, GA—Sept. 1, 2010; 1 to 5 p.m. EDT
  • Chicago, IL—Sept. 8, 2010; 1 to 5 p.m. CDT
  • Dallas, TX—Sept. 22, 2010; 1 to 5 p.m. CDT
  • Los Angeles, CA—Sept. 29, 2010; 1 to 5 p.m. PDT

There is no charge to attend any of these sessions.  Discussion topics include:

  • Who is subject to the regulation
  • Who is subject to the regulation
  • What tobacco products are regulated
  • Prohibition of sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to persons younger than 18 years of age
  • Self-service displays and vending machines
  • Minimum cigarette and smokeless tobacco package sizes
  • Prohibition of free samples of cigarettes
  • Coupons
  • Sponsorships
  • Non-tobacco gift or items
  • Flavored cigarettes
  • “Light, Low and Mild” cigarettes

 To register and for more information, visit: http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/ResourcesforYou/ForIndustry/Retailer/ucm217770.htm

June 28, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court denies review of DOJ’s appeal in tobacco racketeering case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals by the Justice Department and the nation’s largest tobacco companies in the federal government’s landmark racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco industry, U.S. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.  The Court denied, without comment, the administration’s request to seek review on the disgorgement issue, thus preventing it from seeking billions of dollars from the industry, either in past profits or to fund a national campaign to curb smoking.  The Court also rejected appeals from tobacco companies seeking to overturn the court’s finding that the tobacco industry violated federal racketeering law in illegally concealing the dangers of smoking for decades.

 Read more.  Read the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s The Verdict Is In, summarizing findings from the historic U.S. v. Philip Morris opinion.

June 22, 2010

New tobacco controls take effect one year after passage of FDA law

June 22, 2010 marks the one-year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, granting the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products to protect public health and to reduce tobacco use by children and adolescents.   Several key provisions take effect today, including those restricting sales and marketing and youth access.

Read more.
CDC.gov

June 17

Global survey shows tobacco is world’s least reputable industry

An independent global survey based on more than 80,000 consumer interviews in 32 countries has found that the tobacco industry is the least reputable industry of 25 industry categories surveyed.   The results reflect consumer ratings of 600 of the world’s largest companies on issues including perceptions of trust, esteem, admiration and good feeling.  The survey was conducted by the Reputation Institute.

Read more about the Global Reputation Pulse 2010 report.

June 8, 2010

New resources available on local public health ordinances and regulations

While federal and state public health laws have been studied and reformed significantly over the past 20 years, considerably less focus has been directed to local public health laws in the United States. Like their federal and state counterparts, local public health laws can serve a critical role in protecting population health. The results of a study of select local public health laws and trends, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and conducted by Kristine Gebbie (Hunter College-CUNY) and James G. Hodge, Jr. (Arizona State University) with extensive assistance from Kathy McCarty, JD, MPH, and their colleagues at their respective universities, are now available. 

Specific project reports and scholarship include:

Major Components and Themes of Local Public Health Laws in Select U.S. Jurisdictions, Public Health Reports 2009 

Complete Guide for Local Public Health Ordinances

Advancing  Public Health Practice and Policy Solutions: Building the Base for a Research Agenda on Local Public Health Legal Authority

June 7, 2010

New reports released on benefits of healthy eating and active living

Two national public health organizations have released new studies that make a compelling case for chronic disease prevention strategies at the federal, state and local levels.  The Prevention Institute's report, Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living, addresses the importance of including safety strategies in healthy eating and active living policies.  Also, the American Public Health Association has recently released a report, The Hidden Health Costs of Transportation, which describes the economic benefit of developing healthier and more active transportation systems and land use measures.

Read Prevention Institute's report on Violence, Healthy Eating and Active Living.
Prevention Institute

Read APHA report on the Hidden Health Costs of Transportation. PDF
American Public Health Association

June 4, 2010

Tobacco Industry sues over NYC’s in-store anti-smoking signs

Three of the nation’s largest tobacco manufacturers have sued to block a recent New York City Board of Health regulation that requires city retailers to post grisly warning signs about the dangers of smoking.  Philip Morris USA, RJ Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco, along with two trade groups and two retailers claim the regulation violates the First Amendment by forcing cigarette sellers “to undertake graphic advocacy on behalf of the city.”  The city Health Department claims that point-of-purchase warnings are legally valid and one of the most effective educational tools available to impress customers with the health risks of smoking.  The case is Stop 1 Grocery v. New York City Board of Health.

Learn more: "Big Tobacco files suit over NYC's in-store, anti-smoking signs"
New York Post

June 1, 2010

Moment of reckoning for salt

According to a recent article in the New York Times, the processed food industry is working overtly and behind the scenes to defend itself against recent public health initiatives to encourage consumers to use less salt in their food.  Government health experts estimate that deep cuts in salt consumption could save 150,000 lives a year. Since processed foods account for most of the sodium in the American diet, national health officials, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, Michelle Obama, and even the Institute of Medicine, are urging food companies to greatly reduce their use of salt. In response, food companies, such as Cargill, Kellogg and Campbell, are promoting the health effects of salt and its flavor-enhancing qualities.

Read "The Hard Sell on Salt"
New York Times

May 28, 2010

Smoker Wins $8 Million in Tobacco Verdict

A Connecticut woman who smoked Salem cigarettes for 25 years and developed larynx cancer at 36 has won $8 million in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds. After a 2006 decision in the Florida Supreme Court, several Florida juries have awarded smokers damages in tobacco lawsuits, but the case of Barbara Izzarelli of Norwich, Connecticut, is believed to be the first successful product liability lawsuit in Connecticut by an individual plaintiff against a tobacco company. The federal jury in Izzarelli’s case held that the Salem cigarettes made by J.J. Reynolds were unreasonably dangerous and defectively designed and that the company had acted with reckless disregard for the safety of consumers and should be required to pay punitive damages.  A judge will decide additional punitive damages next month.

Read more.
Connecticut Law Tribune

May 24, 2010

Minnesota Governor Signs State’s First Complete Streets Legislation

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Omnibus Transportation Bill (SF 2540), which includes Minnesota’s first statewide Complete Streets legislation, which both houses passed last month. Complete Streets is a term used to describe transportation planning and design processes that emphasize safety and accessibility for all users of roadways – drivers, pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and others – regardless of age or ability.  The law takes effect August 1, 2010.

Read more about this legislation.
Public Health Law Center

Read the Minnesota Complete Streets legislation.
mncompletestreets.org

May 21, 2010

R.J. Reynolds Told to Pay $29.1 Million to Smoker’s Widow

In a unanimous verdict today by six Florida jurors, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was ordered to pay $29.1 million to Connie Buonomo, the widow of a Florida man who started smoking at age 13 and died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2008.  The verdict includes $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.  Jurors in Florida have delivered more than $230 million in verdicts for smokers and their families since February 2009. The plaintiffs in the cases sued after the Florida Supreme Court decertified a state-wide smokers’ class action in 2006.

Read the article.
Bloomberg Businessweek

May 20, 2010

ALA Releases New Edition of State Tobacco Law Summaries

Today, the American Lung Association released the 2009 edition of State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI), its comprehensive compilation/summary of state tobacco control laws, which reflects tobacco control laws as they stood on January 2, 2010.   The SLATI online report includes state information on smoke-free laws and policies, cigarette taxes, tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and other tobacco-related state-specific data.  The report is updated regularly to reflect changes in laws occurring throughout the year.  

Visit the SLATI website.
slati.lungusa.org

May 19, 2010

CDC Aims to Improve Health through Transportation Policy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a set of transportation policy recommendations that can have a positive impact on public health. The agency supports policies that provide a balanced portfolio of transportation choices that support health and reduce health care costs.  These policies can decrease the number of motor vehicle crashes and injuries, improve healthy community design, promote safe and convenient opportunities for physical activity, reduce human exposure to pollutants, and expand access to safe, healthy, convenient, and affordable transportation.

Read the CDC's transportation policy recommendations.
cdc.gov

May 18, 2010

Food Companies Agree to Reduce Salt in American Diets

After the Food and Drug Administration last month announced its intent to reduce Americans’ sodium intake, sixteen food companies (including Starbucks, Subway and Boar’s Head) have signed on to reduce sodium levels in their foods by 25 percent over the next five years.  These efforts are long overdue in the eyes of most health experts, given medical evidence that reducing sodium intake from today’s average of 3,400 milligrams to 2,300 mg a day could prevent 100,000 deaths each year. 

Read the article.
Chicago Tribune

May 13, 2010

Minnesota Passes Expansive Tobacco Product Legislation

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law the state’s Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010, which expands Minnesota’s definition of "tobacco products" to cover new smokeless tobacco products, including those currently in test markets around the U.S. The legislation was nicknamed the “Tic Tac Tobacco Act” because many of the products the law seeks to regulate, such as sticks, strips and orbs, resemble candy-shaped nicotine snacks, aimed at children. The law also prohibits the sale to youth of tobacco-related devices, such as pipes and rolling papers, and nicotine and lobelia delivery devices, including so-called e-cigarettes, and requires the tobacco-related devices to be sold from behind the counter. The law takes effect August 1, 2010.

Read the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010.

Read more on the legislation.
Public Health Law Center

May 12, 2010

HHS Identifies Key Public Health Priorities

The Department of Health and Human Services has identified thirteen “strategic initiatives” that Americans need to live healthy lives.  These Initiatives include the reduction of tobacco use, obesity prevention, food safety, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy prevention, the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, health care reform, addressing public health emergencies, and early childhood health.  In related news this week, First Lady Michelle Obama and members of the Childhood Obesity Task Force unveiled a national action plan: Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation.

Read more about the HHS initiatives.
HHS.gov

Read more about the Childhood Obesity Task Force action plan.
reuters.com

See a video of First Lady Obama unveiling the childhood obesity action plan.
youtube.com

May 3, 2010

Obesity and smoking raise blood clot risk

A new Danish study, following nearly 19,000 adults for 20 years, found that those who were obese or heavy smokers had an increased risk of developing potentially dangerous blood clots in the veins.  If one of these clots, usually found in the legs, travels to the lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism, it can prove fatal.  The study results indicate that two widely recommended lifestyle changes – losing weight and quitting smoking – are  not only likely to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and peripheral artery disease, but also the risk of venous thromboembolism  – potentially lethal blood clots. 

Read more about obesity and smoking health risks.
Reuters

Read the Circulation journal report on the study.
American Heart Association
Circulation

April 23, 2010

A Growing Hunger:  The Nation’s Demand for Food Safety and Nutrition Information

The National Association of Local Boards of Health and Bowling Green State University's 11th Annual Ned E. Baker Lecture in Public Health is now archived for viewing on the web. The April 8, 2010 lecture features panelists speaking about food safety, nutrition, food marketing, menu labeling, and import food security.

April 23, 2010

CDC’s Tobacco Control State Highlights: 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released its 2010 report with state-specific data on proven, high impact tobacco prevention strategies. According to the CDC, although smoking rates have declined since the mid 1990s, the nationwide rate has stalled at approximately 20 percent.  The report states that the estimated tax burden on American households due to smoking averages $619 annually, and that for every one person who dies of a smoking-related disease, 20 more suffer with at least one serious illness caused by smoking.

Read the CDC’s Tobacco Control State Highlights: 2010 report.

March 19, 2010

FDA issues rule restricting access and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to youth

The Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule containing broad federal requirements designed to curb the access of tobacco products to children and adolescents.  The rule, published March 19, 2010, takes effect June 22, 2010, and has the force and effect of law.  Among other things, the rule prohibits the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18, prohibits the sale of cigarette packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes, prohibits distribution of free samples of cigarettes, restricts distribution of free samples of smokeless tobacco, and prohibits tobacco brand name sponsorship of any athletic, musical or other social or cultural events.

Read the FDA rule restricting access and marketing of tobacco products to youth.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Read the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s factsheets on FDA regulation of tobacco.
Tobacco Control Legal Consortium

March 5, 2010

FDA names Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee

The Food and Drug Administration has taken a critical step in implementing its new authority to regulate tobacco products by appointing a group of highly qualified scientists and health professionals to its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.  The panel appointed today includes some of the world’s foremost scientific authorities on tobacco products and marketing – experts who will provide advice, information and recommendations to the FDA on a wide range of tobacco-related issues. 

Read the roster of the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee.

Read the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium’s factsheets about the federal regulation of tobacco.

March 1, 2010

Where There’s No Smoke, Altria Hopes There’s Fire

Altria, home to Philip Morris and its popular Marlboro cigarette brand, and supporter of federal legislation regulating tobacco products, is arguing to the Food and Drug Administration that it should be allowed to market smokeless tobacco products (such as snuff and snus) as less harmful than cigarettes. A recent article in the New York Times provides an overview of the ongoing debate about smokeless tobacco, the role of Altria, and federal regulation of tobacco. 

Read more about Altria and the regulation of smokeless tobacco products.
New York Times