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Report: Tobacco Targeted at Teens, FDA Fix Needed

February 25, 2008

Columbus, OH – Lime, toffee, and coconut and pineapple-flavored cigarettes? A new report says they're part of an effort to market tobacco to kids. The report's authors are asking Congress to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to "snuff out" these types of products.

The companies say the new products have been introduced as options for current smokers, but Danny McGoldrick with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids believes they're aimed squarely at the teenage market.

"Because of the lack of government regulation, tobacco companies have free rein to launch a new generation of products that continues their long tradition of designing products explicitly to recruit new, youth smokers."

Wendy Simpkins, with the American Cancer Society in Ohio, agrees. She says tobacco companies are spending millions to market youth-oriented tobacco products in the state.

"One out of five Ohio high school students currently smoke. By allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco, Congress would be protecting our children from tobacco addiction."

A bill in Congress would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco marketing to youth, co-sponsored by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and seven members of the state's House delegation. McGoldrick hopes that Sen. George Voinovich also will sign on. The bill would also bar tobacco companies from making health claims about so-called "low-tar" and "light" tobacco products, and require them to reveal the chemicals and other additives contained in their products.

The report can be viewed online, at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OH