New health threat, federally-funded health policy based on junk science

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), the nation's largest taxpayer watchdog group, today released its latest Through the Looking Glass Report: A New Health Threat: Federally-Funded Health Policy Based on Junk Science.

The report is a continuation of CAGW's investigation of how federal health activities and programs, costing taxpayers billions of dollars annually, have been politicized to the detriment of the public health. As with federal policies on alcohol and food, bias on the smokeless tobacco issue shows how federal agencies cater to neo-prohibitionist constituencies that have no interest in finding the truth.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in their administration of The Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986 ("the Act"), disseminate misleading and inaccurate information to the public regarding the dangers of smokeless tobacco. In this case, the agencies seek to please activists that are so dedicated to their anti-tobacco "quit or die" agenda that they actively try to prevent the public from receiving any information regarding smokeless tobacco's potential as either a reduced-risk alternative to smoking or as a cessation technique.

The report concludes that more smokers would be helped if the federal government used a harm-reduction approach on tobacco. It is time to end the taxpayer-financed campaign of disinformation regarding smokeless tobacco. The distortion of the truth on such an alternative to smoking may be causing hundreds of thousands of unnecessary American deaths annually. The CAGW report recommends:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee should conduct hearings on whether the FTC's administration of the Act is fair or whether the agency is misleading the public in a harmful manner.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee should conduct hearings to examine HHS's administration of the Act, particularly to investigate why HHS, its agencies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to disseminate misleading and inaccurate information regarding the dangers of smokeless tobacco and why they have failed to conduct the research, as required by law, to determine the relative dangers between smokeless tobacco and cigarettes.
  • The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Government Reform Committee should conduct hearings to determine how much federal money is being used by both federal and state governments to run smoking "quit lines" that are supposed to help people quit smoking, while failing to acknowledge the value of smokeless tobacco as a cessation technique.

"The federal government has a responsibility to administer health policies in a manner that benefits all Americans," CAGW President Tom Schatz said. "In this instance, the federal health community is setting policy based on a preconceived political agenda, regardless of the facts. This concerted campaign of disinformation wastes tax dollars and might be costing lives."

For more information and a copy of the full report, please contact Mark Carpenter or Tom Finnigan at 202-467-5300 or visit http://www.cagw.org.

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