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 & Myers.
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."