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News Release

President Obama signs historic tobacco legislation; SPH's Cliff Douglas in attendance.

June 22, 2009 news release from the University of Michigan School of Public Health

WASHINGTON, D.C.—When President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act into law on June 22 in a Rose Garden ceremony, Cliff Douglas was there for the historic moment.

Douglas, a University of Michigan lecturer in Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health and director of the UM Tobacco Research Network, made the trip from Ann Arbor to witness what he called "an awesome event—the culmination of a decades-long battle to regulate tobacco products and tobacco marketing for health and safety."

"With effective implementation, this should mark a major turning point in our efforts to combat the leading cause of preventable death and illness in our society," Douglas said.

Douglas was responsible for the investigative news expose on ABC News in 1994 that informed the public for the first time that the tobacco industry was manipulating nicotine to cause and enhance addiction in millions of consumers. That led to historic congressional hearings (e.g., the seven tobacco CEOs) and prompted the FDA to seek to regulate tobacco. He has worked since then with Congress, the FDA, tobacco company whistleblowers, and leading public health organizations on further investigations and on advocacy efforts to grant the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco.

Significance of the Legislation

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 will let the FDA lower the amount of nicotine in tobacco products, block labels such "light," and eliminate candy flavorings. The Associated Press referred to the bill's passage as a significant legislative victory for Obama, providing unprecedented authority to regulate tobacco.

During the signing, President Obama spoke of his own struggles to quit smoking, and he criticized the tobacco industry for marketing its products to kids.

"I know—I was one of these teenagers," Obama said. "I know how difficult it is to break this habit when it has been with you for a long time." Read the complete text of Obama's remarks.

Contact: Terri Mellow, director of communications
Phone: (734) 764-8094
E-mail: twm@umich.edu