Newswise — Harold Farber, MD, MSPH, Chair of the American Thoracic Society Tobacco Action Committee
Harold Farber, MD, MSPH, is associate professor of pediatrics at the Baylor College of Medicine and a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. His diverse clinical interests include asthma, the treatment of tobacco dependence, respiratory care of children with muscular dystrophy, respiratory care of technology dependent children, and the chronic care of children with complex respiratory diseases.
On Nov. 26, after years of fighting the order in the courts, the tobacco industry will begin running ads – “corrective statements”— in newspapers and on television that outline the scope of the health risk that cigarettes and second-hand smoke pose. Ruling in 2006 on a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against the tobacco industry under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote, “Defendants have marketed and sold their lethal produce with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”
- All the statements draw on evidence-based findings from U.S. Surgeon General Reports on tobacco – and on knowledge that the tobacco industry long had, but intentionally deceived the public about.
- This is the first time that the tobacco companies are acknowledging the truth to the general public: tobacco is a product that is highly addictive and as a direct consequence of its design, kills people when used exactly as intended.
- The corrective statements are a good first step in renewed efforts to eliminate the biggest threat to public health.
- Despite extensive evidence of harm to youth, the FDA has deferred taking action on flavored tobacco products, failed to take action to limit tobacco marketing that is accessible to youth, and has fallen short on actions to regulate or restrict tobacco products whose design attracts and addicts youth.
Dr. Farber and ATS colleagues recently wrote an editorial in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society recounting the actions that led to the decision against Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA.
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