Tobacco Industry's Legal Fight to Block Federal Tobacco Law Hurts New York's Children, Commissioner Daines Declares

Without Stronger Rules in Place, Children Left Unprotected

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 21, 2010) - On tomorrow's one-year anniversary of the federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., criticized the tobacco industry's court challenges to tougher rules to protect youth from the sale, distribution and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

"Passage of the federal tobacco control act marked an important milestone to protect our children from the insidiousness of tobacco industry marketing," Commissioner Daines said. "However, it is sadly predictable that stronger rules that should have gone into effect today have stalled because of court challenges from the tobacco industry. Parents are left with federal rules that don't go far enough to protect New York's children."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had sought to limit tobacco product advertising in magazines and in stores to be only black text on a white background. Using black and white text-only advertising would lessen the impact on children, who are especially vulnerable to tobacco ads. However, a lawsuit is preventing implementation.

"In New York we have a strong Tobacco Control Program working to protect our children from the predatory marketing practices of the tobacco industry," said Jeffrey Willett, Ph.D., Director of the Department of Health's (DOH) Tobacco Control Program. "Since many of the rules going into effect today are already required by state law, they will barely make a dent in New York."

DOH is working aggressively to reduce the impact of tobacco product marketing on children. In May, Dr. Daines submitted comments on proposed FDA rules to regulate outdoor advertising of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These comments seek to ensure that future rules are strengthened and adequately protect children from tobacco industry marketing.

Dr. Daines recommended that the FDA take these actions:

  • Prohibit all outdoor tobacco product advertising within 1,000 feet of all public and private elementary and secondary schools. There are clear associations between increased youth exposure to tobacco product advertising near schools and higher rates of youth smoking and illegal sales of tobacco products to minors.
  • Require that all tobacco products be kept out of consumer view in non-adult-only retail establishments. Tobacco product displays are an effective form of advertising, and studies find that tobacco product purchases and recall are influenced by consumer exposure to tobacco product displays.
  • Require tobacco retailers to post compelling health warnings regarding the harmful effects of tobacco use and to provide customers with information about tobacco use cessation at all points where tobacco products are sold, advertised and displayed. A similar requirement went into effect in New York City in 2009, and on June 4, 2010, Lorillard, Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and various retailer associations filed a lawsuit against New York City's requirement.

Cigarettes are one of the most heavily marketed products in the United States. In 2006, the tobacco industry spent approximately $12.5 billion to market tobacco products, more than the annual marketing expenditures for carbonated beverages, candy/frozen desserts, snack foods and alcohol combined. The pervasiveness of exterior and interior retail tobacco marketing limits the ability of public health organizations, parents and others to effectively reduce rates of youth tobacco use. Health Commissioner Daines reports that New York remains dedicated to protecting our children from tobacco product marketing and reduce the enormous social, health and economic impacts that tobacco use has on our nation.

The Act was signed into law on June 22, 2009 by President Obama, and grants the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. New rules taking effect on June 22 include a prohibition on the sale of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to people younger than 18 and a requirement that audio advertisements for tobacco products use words only, without music or sound effects. In addition, beginning June 22, the Act prohibits use of "light," "low," "mild" and all similar descriptors in all advertising, labeling and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless products.

A copy of Dr. Daines comments to FDA can be found at: http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480aec160

Health and Economic Impacts of Tobacco Use in New York

  • Currently in New York, 17.9 percent of adults and 14.7 percent of high school students are smokers.
  • Cigarette-caused health care expenses cost New York $8.17 billion annually.
  • 389,000 children alive today will die prematurely due to smoking-related illnesses.
  • 25,400 New Yorkers die each year from smoking-caused illness.