Conferences & Symposia
“Safer” Tobacco Products: Reducing Harm or Giving False Hope?
Friday April 20, 2007
Sponsored by the University of Maryland School of Law
Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation & Advocacy
and the Law & Health Care Program.
The public health crisis created by tobacco use may be second to none in the United States today. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in our country. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control reveal that more than 400,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases and another 38,000 from secondhand smoke exposure. The economic toll of tobacco use is staggering: $167 billion in lost productivity and health care expenditures annually. This long-term public health dilemma is far from over despite decades of anti-smoking public education campaigns, multi-faceted litigation against the tobacco industry and dynamic legislation designed to reduce smoking and smoking-related disease.
As public health organizations work to reduce the harm from tobacco use, tobacco companies appear to join those efforts by marketing so-called reduced harm or reduced-exposure products. Cigarettes that purportedly reduce the likelihood of certain diseases for smokers and allegedly minimize the negative health impact of secondhand smoke exposure are on the market--with many more in the design and development stage. Non-cigarette tobacco products, such as chew tobacco, are being marketed as presenting less risk of harm than cigarettes. Questions arise:
- How should the public health community respond to these products and their companion claims?
- What are the legal issues surrounding the marketing and use of these products?
- Has the time finally come for Congress to grant the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products so that this new marketing scheme will be subject to effective government scrutiny and oversight? Or is that an oxymoron?
With a bit of an historical overview and a brief explanation of the science behind risk reduction, conference attendees will explore these questions with the guidance of expert panelists from across the country. While we may raise as many questions as we answer, we will be better prepared to respond to the newest dynamic in tobacco product marketing to insure that we continue to combat the public health crisis presented by persistent tobacco use.
Public health advocates and faculty and health law faculty and practitioners are welcome to join the Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation and Advocacy and the Law and Health Care Program at what is sure to be a vibrant day of discussion. Newly elected Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler will make a special appearance to introduce lunchtime speaker Dr. Cheryl Healton.