Protecting Our People Requires More Than Playing the Politics of Tobacco

Date: July 30, 2008
Location: Washington, DC

Protecting Our People Requires More Than Playing the Politics of Tobacco

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Lewisville) issues the following statement following his "no" vote on H.R. 1108:

I didn't support the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act when it came through committee and I didn't support it today. This bill will do nothing to actually reduce the risk of smoking-related illness.

The FDA should have the responsibility of regulating products that are either nutritive or therapeutic—tobacco is neither. The FDA's scarce resources should be used to actually help improve our nation's health and not maintain the status quo. Additionally, with the recent tomato and jalapeno recalls, it's clear they already have their hands full with their existing responsibilities. Is it really wise to pile on even more?

It is a little known fact that a major domestic cigarette company worked behind closed doors with senior Democrats to bring this bill to the floor today. If the supporters of this bill were serious about reducing smoking related illnesses and deaths, then an amendment I offered to give the Secretary the authority to prohibit the sale of certain tobacco products or require any tobacco products sold in this country to contain NO nicotine.

The defeat of my amendments by the majority just goes to show that this bill was nothing more than a cynical political exercise. The House of Representatives missed a real opportunity to protect the health of our country.