In keeping up with his progressive health care reform policies, President Obama today signed a bill that puts tobacco under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration. With the new bill, the FDA will be able to monitor, regulate, and mandate lower nicotine levels in cigarettes and other tobacco products.
"Each day, 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become new regular, daily smokers, and almost 90 percent of all smokers began at or before their 18th birthday," Mr. Obama said before signing the legislation. "I know; I was one of these teenagers. And so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time."
"Kids today don't just start smoking for no reason," the president said Monday. "They're aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry. They're exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it even more tempting."
"Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, health care and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious," he added. "Today, change has come to Washington."
The goal here is not to ban tobacco products, but to allow adults to make a choice, much like alcohol. With the progressive legislation being passed, we hopefully can see some change in our junior highs and high schools allowing kids to make it to 18 before choosing to smoke. We've seen stronger legislation passed to enforce the "no selling under 18" methodology, but I know from my own experience and the experience of others that it's still easy to obtain cigarettes under the age of 18. Hopefully we can further educate our kids to be able to make the right choices around tobacco, and, of course, around other drugs.
Like anything else, however, starting smoking is a choice, just like starting to drink or smoke pot is a choice. The best thing we can do isn't legislation- the best we can do is let our kids and smokers and addicts know that help is available when they need it. And that it's not a weakness to ask for help- that asking for help is a strength. We in America have this "pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps" type of mentality, and that can prove fatal when dealing with addictions. It's imperative, at least around addiction, to instill in our youth that asking for help is ok. Because, as President Obama put it, "If current trends continue, 1 billion people will die from tobacco-related illnesses this century." 1 billion is 1/6th of our total population today, just to put it into perspective.
Educate, educate, EDUCATE!
Here's a video of the bill being signed:
Watch CBS Videos Online
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