Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drug Administration’

Tell the FDA It’s Time to Cut the Salt!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Did you know that over 75% of the sodium in our diet comes from processed foods, beverages and restaurant foods?  That’s not just a food problem, it’s a heart problem. High sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. With 9 out of 10 Americans facing high blood pressure during their lifetime, it’s clear that we need better control of our sodium intake.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can help make our country’s hearts healthier by reducing sodium levels in processed and packaged foods.  Right now, the agency is asking the public for feedback on whether it should take measures to reduce sodium levels in our food- and we need you to speak up.  Send a message of support for removing excess sodium in our food supply today!

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More Reflections from Cass Wheeler

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

“One of the most significant things to happen to the tobacco control movement was in the mid 90s when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation decided to enter the fray and was willing to make a multi million dollar financial commitment annually over many years. This funding resulted in the formation of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and a broader coalition. It was also in the 90s that Mississippi filed suit against the industry to recover costs they had incurred in Medicaid payments as a result of tobacco use. Other states began to follow suit resulting in the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) with the tobacco industry and the largest financial transaction is the history of the world—236 billion dollars. It was in the spring of 1998 that parts of the MSA , including FDA regulation, were discussed on the floor of the US Senate for 4-5 weeks. This was the longest debate in the Senate since civil rights legislation in the 60s. FDA regulation lost by 2 votes in the Senate.

The next phase was the FDA looking at the statutes and determining that they actually had authority to regulate anything that altered the state of the body and that nicotine did exactly that. Of course, the industry filed suit and it ultimately went to the Supreme Court and the industry won by a 5-4 vote with the court stating that Congress needed to grant the FDA authority. So, since we were thwarted at the federal level we took the fight locally, advocating for clean indoor air laws at the local and state levels and fighting for increased excise taxes. Many of you have been a part of these victories and you changed the landscape and created a tipping point. As these laws became more prevalent, it became easier to make our case in Washington. Nothing happens at the federal level without a strong grassroots movement and that’s what you provided. It wouldn’t have happened had you not changed the environment locally and then made your voice heard in DC. What you do locally makes a huge difference.

The single greatest cause of preventable death in the U.S. is tobacco use—440,000 deaths a year. Now for the first time in the history of this country we have a level playing field and no longer will we allow the industry to prey on our kids and addict them. Remember, 88% of current smokers became addicted as underage youth and the industry’s own documents indicate that they implemented strategies to market to kids as young as 11. That will now come to an end and each of you has been a part of making the world a better place. My thanks to all of you.”

Stay tuned for more from former AHA CEOs Cass Wheeler and Dudley Hafner over the next few days…

While we look ahead to the President’s bill signing on Monday, take a moment to thank Members of Congress who voted to pass this life-saving legislation. Visit to send your email.

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The Rest of the Story from Dudley Hafner…

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Following on yesterday’s post… here’s more from Dudley Hafner.

“In the early eighties the landscape changed.

The health agencies learned to work together. The staffs became more skilled and were sought after by Congressmen and their staff for advice. A few victories came our way such as higher tobacco taxes, restrictions on advertising and improvements in cigarette warning labels. But the big prize was escaping us, FDA control of tobacco. The idea was first put forward by Scott Ballin who at the time was a legislative staffer in the AHA Washington office. The idea was embraced by staff of all three organizations but got little traction on the Hill. In fact we were not getting much forward movement until two very significant events occurred. The first was the studies on second hand smoke which made clear that non smokers were victims and deserved protection. And the second was Robert Wood Johnson’s decision to invest in the anti tobacco movement. Here the American Heart Association played a significant role. Our organization at RWJ’s request pledged the first seed money that created “Tobacco Free Kids”. In turn AHA approached ALA and ACS to become active participants. With ACS and AHA pledging funds RWJ then invested several million dollars over a multi year period. Robert Wood Johnson next created the Smokeless States Program which also required the close co-operation of the major voluntary health organizations plus some additional agencies such as state and county health departments, county medical societies and Non Smokers Rights groups. I chaired the Smokeless States Group for 8 years and watched as many small and large successes began to impact public attitude. Victories in point of sale, carding, clean indoor air, tax increases were having an effect. Smoking rates which had started at a slow decline in the late 1960s were now at about 26% down from a high of over 50%. However, smoking rates now appeared to have leveled off. We seemed to be down to the hard core addicts, certainly not the smoke free society that Dr. Everett Koop had as a goal.

But it depends were you sit. The Tobacco Industry was seeing declining consumption, fewer friends willing to speak up in Congress, increasing onerous regulations at the state and community level, and increasing law suits. In December of 1996 Matt Myers of “Tobacco Free Kids” received a call. The States Attorney Generals wanted his guidance in working through a settlement with the major US tobacco companies. Matt contacted the leadership of ACS, AHA and the AMA and for the next five months we served as an advisory group to the discussions. It was obvious that the health community was badly divided on the proposed settlement. This dissension affected the outcome in Congress a few months later. I retired near the end of 1997 and don’t have the details leading to the two vote loss in the Senate in 1998 which would have given FDA control of tobacco. I know that AHA leadership nearly pulled out a miracle. AHA, along with ACS and AMA almost healed a fractured health community, brought the mostly hostile Tobacco Industry to an embarrassing stand still and came close to winning the support in a Congress that had been happy to leave things just the way they had been for the last 200 years. Thanks to determined leadership on the part of the AHA and others- what started as Heart staffers’ concept in the late 1980s finally became a reality in 2009. Congratulations to all who worked so hard the last 11 years to get what we missed in 1998. Thank you for a healthier America. ”

Stay tuned for more from former AHA CEOs Dudley Hafner and Cass Wheeler over the next few days…

While we look ahead to the President’s bill signing, take a moment to thank Members of Congress who voted to pass this life-saving legislation. Visit to send your email.

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US Senate Approves FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

In a historic vote, the US Senate today passed legislation that would finally give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing. The vote was an overwhelming 79-17 in favor of the legislation! This is a remarkable victory!

Dedicated advocates have been working on this legislation for more than a decade, and today, a major hurdle was cleared. Many thanks to all of you who have written, called, emailed and met with your Senators on this important issue over the years. Please take a moment to savor today’s victory!

Read AHA CEO Nancy Brown’s statement on today’s historic passage.

Despite alarming statistics about the death and disease caused by tobacco use, the tobacco industry has remained largely unregulated for far too long. This bill will finally allow the FDA to restrict the tobacco industry’s deceitful marketing practices aimed at enticing our children into a lifetime of tobacco addiction. The bill will also require tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients in their products, and it will require larger, stronger warning labels- among many other provisions.

Tobacco addiction brings with it a significant increase in the risk of heart disease and stroke. About 150,000 Americans die every year from cardiovascular disease caused by smoking. This bill will finally help us reduce the toll of tobacco on American families.

We applaud the US Senate on today’s passage of this life-saving legislation. The bill passed today still must be reconciled with the House version passed earlier this year, and then it will go on the President for his signature. President Obama has said he’ll sign the bill when it is passed, so stay tuned for updates.

We look forward to celebrating that moment with all of you! Today, we send thanks and congratulations your way!

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Senate to Consider FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Committed public health advocates have been working for more than a decade to secure FDA authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing. With the US Senate slated to consider legislation this week that would grant the FDA that authority , we’re closer than ever before to seeing this become a reality!

Did you know that more than 3,500 kids smoke their first cigarette EVERY DAY? It’s time for Senators to act on behalf of America’s children, protecting them from tobacco use and the increased risk of heart disease and stroke that comes with it.

With your help, this bill has already passed the House of Representatives this year by a huge majority. If we can persuade the Senate to pass it- Congress will be very close to sending the bill to the President for his signature.

Support from advocates like you has gotten us this far. Now, help us cross the finish line! Contact your Senators today and ask them to vote YES for our kids!

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House Passes FDA Tobacco Bill!!

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Just moments ago, the US House of Representatives passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act by a vote of 298-112. This is a great victory for heart disease and stroke advocates. The legislation would protect our nation’s children from deadly tobacco addiction and the increased risk of heart disease and stroke that comes with it.

Many of our You’re the Cure advocates called, emailed and faxed their legislators in advance of this vote. Thank you for all your efforts- they were vital to our success today. Congratulations on this success!

You can read the statement from Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association here:
” We’re extremely pleased this important legislation won approval in the House. This vote brings us closer to putting a deceitful and dangerous industry under the watchful eyes of government regulators. The tobacco industry has proven that it cannot be trusted to regulate itself and protect children from the deadly effects of tobacco use. Shameful attempts to addict children and young adults with misleading advertising campaigns must come to an end. This legislation will save lives, help break the cycle of addiction, reduce health care costs and force tobacco companies to educate consumers about the true health hazards associated with tobacco products. With more than a third of smoking-related deaths linked to heart disease and stroke, Congress must move quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk for his signature. We commend Chairman Henry Waxman and Representative Todd Platts for their leadership and call for immediate action in the Senate. To protect the nation’s health, we must ensure that deadly products on the market receive the same or greater regulatory scrutiny as a box of macaroni and cheese.”

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Another Step Forward for FDA Regulation of Tobacco

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

This afternoon, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act! This legislation would finally give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing.

The legislation is now clear for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We are hopeful a House vote will occur in the next few weeks.

Just a few weeks ago, we blogged about another committee’s passage of this bill. We’re thrilled Members of Congress are moving this legislation forward.

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House Committee Passes FDA Regulation of Tobacco!

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, legislation that would give the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products and marketing. The bill passed with a vote of 39-13.

Members of Congress have an opportunity with this bill to protect America’s children from deadly tobacco addiction and end the deceptive marketing practices of Big Tobacco. More than 960 health, children’s and faith groups have signed a letter indicating their support of the bill.

Nearly identical legislation was passed by the House of Representatives last year, but the Senate failed to bring the bill up for a vote despite broad bipartisan support. Today’s action was a great step forward, and we’re hopeful the 111th Congress will quickly attend to this unfinished business.

Ask your Members of Congress to cosponsor this legislation and work for its quick passage. Visit today!

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