Action Against Tobacco

Action Against Tobacco

Individuals and communities have taken action against this major health threat. An assessment made in 2010 found that nearly 80% of Americans live in municipalities that restrict or ban smoking in public buildings, workplaces, restaurants, and bars. Hundreds of colleges and universities now have totally smoke-free campuses or prohibit smoking in residential buildings. As local nonsmoking laws proliferate, evidence mounts that environmental restrictions are effective in encouraging smokers to quit.

At the state level, many tough anti-tobacco laws have been passed. As ofJanuary 2012, comprehensive smoke-free air laws were in effect in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. California has one of the most aggressive and successful tobacco control programs, combining taxes on cigarettes, graphic advertisements, and bans on smoking in bars and restaurants.

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Until 2009, the U.S. FDA did not have the power to regulate tobacco products. That changed when Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the FDA broad regulatory powers over the production, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. The law gives the FDA the power to eliminate or control levels of the thousands of chemical additives used to make tobacco more appealing and addictive. Under the bill, manufacturers are required to use larger warning labels on cigarette packages, list cigarette ingredients on packages, and disclose changes in products as well as research findings. In addition, the FDA has the authority to require changes such as the removal of harmful ingredients.

Many states, as well as the federal government, have filed lawsuits against the tobacco industry to reclaim money spent on tobacco-related health care. A 1998 agreement requires tobacco companies to pay states $206 billion over 25 years. For these and other reasons, tobacco consumption in the United States is declining among some groups. In response, the U.S. tobacco industry has increased its efforts to sell in foreign markets, especially in developing nations with few restrictions on tobacco advertising.

Regular physical activity and social support can make it easier to stop smoking.

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