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Most of the tobacco law changes next year

30 June 2009 948 views No Comment

Although President Barack Obama recently gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco marketing, most of the changes won’t be seen until next year, according to Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Within the next 12 months, larger warning labels will be required on all smokeless tobacco packages and advertisements, and descriptors such as “light” or “mild” will be prohibited. Tobacco manufacturers can no longer sponsor athletic or cultural events, and advertising in most magazines and at the point of sale must be printed in black and white.

But the law is giving some of the more intense efforts at anti-smoking marketing – such as larger, graphic warning labels that cover the top half of the cigarette box – up to three years to go into effect. Despite the delay, some health officials are glad action was taken.”if everything can fall into place like it’sdesigned to there will definitely be some excellent results from this,” said Jason Bergstrand, tobacco prevention coordinator for Richland County Health Department. “The concern is that Philip Morris planted too many loopholes, so this particular law is susceptible to challenge.”

He said the other concern is the “mobsters” on board, referring to the three positions that Philip Morris representatives will hold on a non-voting scientific advisory committee.

“They’ve already been convicted of racketeering,” said Bergstrand. “Why would you put a gangster on board that is reviewing future products? That’s the part that is ridiculous to many people.”

Locally, he said the most noticeable change would be the lack of outdoor advertising allowed within 1,000 feet of schools, parks or playgrounds.

“That might cause a potential problem for Simonson’s and how they market their tobacco products,” he said. “They might be able to get away with putting posters in the window, because that would be considered inside the store, but they would have to change some things.”

Calls to the owner of the Wahpeton branch of Simonson’s were not returned.

Some of the more immediate possibilities for the FDA include issuing product standards that could eliminate certain ingredients or, for instance, reduce nicotine.

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