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Web Letter

Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona is truly my hero. He underperformed his duties during his tenure, but at least he had enough guts to admit it. The others, including the tobacco industry, the White House, US Senators and Representatives, our newspapers and editors, antismoking organizations and tobacco trial lawyers, underperformed their duties but they either don’t know it or don’t have enough character to admit it.

According to the Surgeon General report, about 10 million people have died in the USA due to consequences of smoking since 1964, and if the additional smoking patterns continue an estimated 25 million Americans will die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses. Those are catastrophic consequences, and one of the reasons might be that the smokers overdose themselves by smoking twenty cigarettes per day instead of only one cigarette daily, which would dramatically improve their chances of avoiding deadly diseases.

The smokers don’t know that by reducing the number of cigarettes smoked daily they would dramatically improve their chances of survival, for a pack of cigarettes lacks the essential instruction and crucial information regarding how to use it. The tragedy is that nobody can sue the tobacco industry regarding this colossal deficiency since the industry is in compliance to the current federal law. As long as the tobacco industry prints one of the four specified health warnings, everything is perfectly legal.

According to the law covering cigarette labeling and advertising (15 USC Sec. 1334):

a) No statement relating to smoking and health, other than the statement required by section 1333 of this title (one of the four health warnings) shall be required on any cigarette package.
b) State regulation
No requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health shall be imposed under State Law with respect to the advertising or promotion of any cigarettes the packages of which are labeled in conformity with the provision of this chapter.

But don’t think that our Congress doesn’t care that 400,000 Americans die every year prematurely from the consequences of smoking. The US Congress acted on 04/19/2007. Senator Lieberman introduced the following bill (S 1162) which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. It is called ‘Cigarette Litter Prevention Act of 2007. It demands the following statement on each pack of cigarettes: "Please Dispose of All Cigarette Waste Properly. Do Not Litter."

This means that in the near future, the aforementioned statement will be in competition for smokers' attention versus warnings like “Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide” or “Smoking by Pregnant Woman May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth and Low Birth Weight.”

There is no doubt that those two statements coupled together will convey all the danger that could kill a regular smoker.

And nobody in this country cares about it.

Kenan Porobic

Charlotte, NC

Jul 19 2007 - 11:38am

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