A Year Of Living Dangerously: The Tobacco Control Community Meets The Global Settlement

November 09, 1998

TOBACCO CONTROL LEGISLATION. How did the dichotomy of views within the public health community affect efforts to enact strong Federal tobacco legislation? In an article in the November/December issue of Public Health Reports, three health policy experts reflect on the divisions within the tobacco control community and their impact on the failed McCain tobacco bill in the spring of 1998.

Michele Bloch of Save Lives, Not Tobacco: The Coalition for Accountability, Richard Daynard of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University, and Ruth Roemer of the Department of Health Services at UCLA and past President of the American Public Health Association, blame failure to pass tobacco control legislation to protect the public?s health primarily on the tobacco industry and the Congress.

But the public health community, by dividing into two separate "camps" over the relative merits of providing the tobacco industry with specific legal protections and immunities, wasted precious time and lost credibility fighting among itself rather than uniting behind a single strategy against the tobacco industry.

The authors note that the defeat of the McCain tobacco bill shifts momentum to state and local tobacco control efforts. They see promise in state and class action litigation to force accountability on tobacco manufacturers for tobacco-related illness costs. But since many important public health goals can only be achieved through Federal legislation, they emphasize the crucial need for unity within the tobacco control community.

CONTACT: Michele Bloch, MD PhD; tel. 301-460-4185; fax 301-460-7991; email mbloch@erols.com.
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Public Health Reports

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