Durbin: New Provisions of FDA Tobacco Law Will Save Lives, Protect Children

[CHICAGO, IL] – Provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that go into effect tomorrow will prevent kids from picking up the deadly habit of smoking, help current smokers quit, and save many lives, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. The provisions go into effect on the one-year anniversary of the bill’s enactment.


“The common sense reforms enacted by this law will finally end decades of tobacco industry deceit and targeting of children as ‘replacement smokers,’” Durbin said. “Congress and the President took a giant step forward last year in protecting our kids and safeguarding Americans’ health by giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the manufacture, marketing and sale of tobacco products. The provisions going into effect tomorrow will continue that progress.”


The new provisions prohibit terms like “light,” “low,” and “mild” in advertising and labeling of cigarettes and smokeless products, require larger, stronger warning labels on smokeless tobacco packages and ads, strengthen restrictions on the sale of tobacco products to minors, and curtail marketing tools tobacco companies use to hook new smokers.


Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States, and costs $96 billion in health care expenditures. In Illinois, tobacco kills more than 16,000 people and costs us $4.1 billion in direct health care bills each year. The state Medicaid program covers $1.5 billion in health care costs due to smoking. Government expenditures caused by smoking create a state and federal tax burden of $667 per Illinois household.


The tobacco industry spends billions every year in marketing across the country—$450 million in Illinois alone—to market their deadly and addictive products, often in ways that appeal to children. While smoking rates have remained the same or gone down, smokeless tobacco use is on the rise.


Among the most important reforms that takes effect tomorrow is that the use of terms such as “light” “mild” or “low-tar” will be banned from cigarette labels and advertisements. For decades, the tobacco industry has used these terms to mislead the public into believing that some brands of cigarettes are less harmful than others, and to discourage smokers from quitting. Unfortunately, that deceptive strategy has worked for them.


More than half of daily American smokers—including nearly two thirds of women who smoke—say they smoke brands marketed as “light” or “ultra-light.” Many smokers erroneously believe that using these products helps reduce the risks from smoking.


“The use of these words has been one of the most harmful consumer frauds of all time and tomorrow we will finally remove these deceitful terms from cigarette packages and ads,” Durbin said. “However, I’ve been fighting tobacco companies for years, and I know that they have always tried to stay one step ahead of the government.”


Durbin sent a letter to four cigarette companies last week urging them not to circumvent the law amid media reports that they are planning to replace the use of “light” and “ultra-light” with creative packaging and inserts.


Below, please find a list of the new regulations that will be effective tomorrow:



TUESDAY, JUNE 22, 2010


The following provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act go into effect tomorrow:


  • Prohibition on using descriptor terms like “light” “low” and “mild” in all advertising and labeling of cigarettes and smokeless products.
  • Larger, stronger warning labels required on all smokeless tobacco packages and in ads
  • Sales to minors under 18 made a federal violation for the first time, with FDA financed compliance checks and enforcement
  • No vending machine sales or self service displays of cigarettes/smokeless tobacco except in adult only facilities
  • No branded product tie-ins or giveaways (t-shirts, hats, etc.)
  • No branded sponsorships of athletic or cultural events by cigarette manufacturers
  • No free samples of cigarettes
  • No sales of cigarettes in packages less than 20