This month marks the 43rd annual American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, a day dedicated to helping people quit tobacco. It’s fitting that this important day falls so close to another milestone in the fight against tobacco use—the next phase in Big Tobacco’s public admissions about the dangers of tobacco.
In 2006, a U.S. District Judge ruled that tobacco companies had defrauded the American public by lying about the health effects of smoking and intentionally making cigarettes more addictive. As a result, tobacco companies have been forced to come clean to the public and place advertisement in newspapers and on television that say what science has been showing for years: tobacco products are deadly and addictive.
This month, tobacco companies will be required to start telling their consumers the truth directly on their cigarette packs. They are being compelled, by court order, to attach notes onto cigarette packages that acknowledge the deadly hazards of using their addictive products.
These statements can help hold Big Tobacco accountable for their long history of wrongdoing and remind Rhode Islanders of the true tolls of tobacco use. But we must do more to help people break their addictions. That’s why it’s critical Rhode Island lawmakers protect children by increasing tobacco control program funding and raising the sale age for all tobacco products in our state, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. By taking a stand against Big Tobacco we can help families and communities across Rhode Island to build a healthier future.
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network