HOUSTON--Passage of the Contract with America legislation, as
currently written, could hinder tobacco control efforts for years
to come, a Washington, DC, attorney said at the American Society
for Preventive Oncology (ASPO) meeting.
Conceived as a plan to "get government off the backs of individuals,"
key components of the Regulatory Reform Act could hinder the ability
of federal agencies to enforce many existing health and safety
regulations, said Mathew Myers, counsel for the Coalition on Health
or Smoking and a partner with the firm of Asbill, Junkin &
He believes that such legislation could make it difficult for
all but the narrowest health and safety regulations, including
proposed tobacco-related regulations, to be enacted.
The legislation also proposes to put "affected industries"
on the panels of agencies charged with conducting new cost-benefit
analyses, and "would permit affected industries to sue the
federal agencies at literally every stage of the process,"
he said. "Even the simplest legislation that affects a powerful
industry could be tied up in our judicial system for years."
Smoking Is a 'Pediatric Disease'
Mr. Myers said that the weight of scientific evidence of tobacco's
health consequences is not sufficient to keep the tobacco industry
at bay. Instead, more emphasis must be placed on involvement in
public policy development.
He suggested aggressive use of four key tools in the battle against
tobacco use (see box on page 17), and emphasized that the antitobacco
campaign must focus on teenagers and children. He said that 90%
of all smokers begin before age 18, and more than a third begin
before age 14. More than two thirds of users of smokeless tobacco
begin before age 12. "Nicotine addiction is a pediatric disease,"
he said. "Educated adults are quitting; kids are still starting."