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Land: Bring tobacco under gov. oversight

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It’s a distasteful reality: The federal government carefully regulates products that aid individuals in breaking their addiction to tobacco, yet tobacco products themselves are not regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, Richard Land said August 28.

The SBC ethicist appeared with other religious leaders and local public health experts in a Faith United Against Tobacco press conference in Nashville, Tenn. The group expressed its support for the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which is H.R. 1108 in the House of Representatives and S. 625 in the Senate.

The bill would bring tobacco products under the purview of the FDA, Land said, and would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Land is president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“The tobacco companies have a problem,” Land said. “Their product kills their customers.” This was the driving force, he said, behind the industry’s insatiable push to attract new consumers and use questionable marketing tactics to reach youngsters.

As early in 1932, Southern Baptists addressed the issue of tobacco in adopting a resolution that called on members of the denomination to “consider the probable ultimate effect of the growing and excessive use of tobacco by our boys and girls,” Land noted.

A 1984 SBC resolution called on parents to abstain from tobacco use to the benefit of their children and urged Southern Baptist tobacco farmers “to cease such agriculture.”

“Every day over 1,000 of our children become addicted to this deadly product,” Land said, adding that he had lost family members to tobacco-related diseases.

Tobacco use, he pointed out, is the “leading preventable cause of death” in the U.S., although tobacco products are “virtually unregulated.”

If the bill passes, Land said the general public would finally discover what “deadly garbage” the tobacco industry is putting in cigarettes. The legislation authorizes the FDA to identify and disclose the ingredients used in tobacco products.

“While each person bears responsibility for whether he or she chooses to engage in tobacco use, responsibility also falls upon those in authority, who have the power to end tobacco deception and significantly reduce the illness and death that it can produce,” Land said.

He emphasized he was not seeking a ban on tobacco products but reasonable oversight of the product. He also expressed regret that “dog food is more regulated for safety than cigarettes.”

“It is morally wrong to know the good that should be done and not do it,” Land said, adding that those in “positions of leadership and power have a moral imperative to safeguard the men, women, and children of our country from falling into the pitfalls of tobacco abuse.”
Dwayne Hastings is a writer for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

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