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Obama inks landmark anti-tobacco law

June 23, 2009 11:13 IST

Obama inks landmark anti-tobacco law

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United States President Barack Obama is fighting hard to stub the butt. Though not a chain smoker, he reportedly does manage to sneak in a quick smoke often.

On Monday, the US President inked the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate the marketing and manufacture of tobacco products.

The law bans fruit and spice-flavoured cigarettes, slaps expansive new warnings on packages and gets rid of the monikers 'light' and 'low-tar'.


Image: Obama signs the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Watching Obama is Sarah Louise Wiggins, 9, of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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'I know how difficult it can be to break this habit'

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More than 400,000 Americans now die of tobacco-related illnesses each year, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. More than 8 million Americans suffer from at least one serious illness caused by smoking. And these health problems cost us all more than $100 billion a year.

Signing the Bill in the presence of children from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and members of the US Congress at the Rose Garden in White House, Obama said, "I know -- I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time. 

"And I also know that kids today don't just start smoking for no reason. They're aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. 


Image: A man looks into a store window as he smokes in the street in New York
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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'It will ban tobacco ads within a 1000 ft of schools'

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"They are exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavourings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting.

"This legislation will not ban all tobacco products, and it will allow adults to make their own choices. But it will also ban tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds. 

"It will curb the ability of tobacco companies to market products to our children by using appealing flavours. It will force these companies to more clearly and publicly acknowledge the harmful and deadly effects of the products they sell. And it will allow the scientists at the FDA to take other common-sense steps to reduce the harmful effects of smoking.


Image: Prices on cigarettes are seen in a tobacco shop in New York
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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'A sign of change in Washington'

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"Today, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death not just in America, but also in the world. If current trends continue, 1 billion people will die from tobacco-related illnesses this century.

"And so the United States will continue to work with the World Health Organization and other nations to fight this epidemic on a global basis.'

Making clear that this legislation does not represent the end of the road on fighting back the health risks of smoking, the President nonetheless described it as another very significant sign of change in Washington


Image: A pair of smokers stand outside of an office building at Times Square
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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