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Tobacco Injuries and Tobacco Cases

Institute of Medicine Recommends Ways to Reduce Smoking in the US

WASHINGTON, DC -- June 8, 2007 -- Tobacco use causes 440,000 deaths per year nationwide and accounts for about $89 billion in health care expenses, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a scientific group that advises Congress on medical issues. In a recent report entitled, Ending the Tobacco Problem, A Blueprint for the Nation, the IOM considered ways to reduce smoking and secondhand smoke.

"Smoking is a habit with potentially deadly consequences that is often taken up by adolescents before they can truly appreciate the risk of addiction," said IOM chair Richard J. Bonnie. "We propose aggressive steps to end the tobacco problem--that is, to reduce tobacco use so substantially that it is no longer a significant public health problem." (Press Release, The National Academies, May 24, 2007). The IOM's recommendations include:

  • Greatly increasing the federal excise tax on cigarettes to discourage purchases and to fund tobacco prevention programs.
  • Imposing smoking bans in indoor public settings such as restaurants, bars, malls and nursing homes.
  • Requiring health insurance plans to provide coverage for smoking cessation programs.
  • Banning online sales of tobacco products and direct-to-consumer shipments.
  • Restricting tobacco ads to black-and-white, text-only, and prohibiting the use of misleading terms such as "mild" and "light."
  • Requiring pictorial warnings in addition to text warnings on cigarette packages.
  • Prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting young people.
  • Reducing the number or type of stores that are allowed to sell cigarettes.

The report also recommends developing a plan for gradually lowering the nicotine content of cigarettes and urges Congress to pass legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to enforce nicotine reduction standards.

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