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Public Opinion and Health Care
October 14, 1998

The Public and the Comprehensive Tobacco Bill

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Dr Blendon and Mr Young); and the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass (Dr Blendon).

JAMA. 1998;280(14):1279-1284. doi:10.1001/jama.280.14.1279

ON JUNE 17, 1998, the US Senate voted to end consideration of comprehensive antitobacco legislation.1 The $516 billion bill was built on a blueprint developed nearly 1 year earlier in a settlement between the tobacco industry and 40 state attorneys general.

The Senate bill would have increased cigarette taxes by $1.10 per pack over several years, penalized the tobacco industry if youth smoking rates did not drop significantly, and given the Food and Drug Administration complete authority to regulate nicotine as a drug. The bill would also have included new regulations on the sale, manufacturing, labeling, and marketing of tobacco products, particularly to children. In addition, the legislation would have devoted a large share of the monies raised to health-related activities, including medical research, antismoking campaigns, and prevention research.1