This is an open letter sent by Airspace President Errol Povah to U.S. President Barack Obama:

At this watershed moment in your presidency, you have an unprecedented opportunity for effective action during your remaining two years in office. We propose that you capitalize on the foundation created by you and your administration through the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave the Food and Drug Administration power to regulate the nicotine content of cigarettes.

Now, exactly 50 years after Surgeon General Luther Terry's landmark 1964 report, smoking remains by far the leading cause of preventable death in the USA, killing a staggering 480,000 Americans per year (about 1/5th of all deaths). Even worse, almost all smokers start and become addicted as children. By adulthood about 75% of them want to quit, but most can't. Globally, the tobacco epidemic is accelerating as well, with this century’s predicted total deaths expected to surpass one billion, ten times the total of the last century.

What perfect timing for America to take the lead in this fight! Your landmark 2009 legislation gave the FDA and America the tools necessary to successfully oppose an industry that U.S. District Court Judge Kessler found deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, and intentionally designed its products to make them more addictive.

As one of the principal goals of your remaining time in office, please push the FDA to act on the powers you gave it to regulate the nicotine content of cigarettes. Imagine the legacy of President Barack Obama: the man who ended the worst epidemic in human history.


Errol E. Povah
President, Airspace Action on Smoking & Health

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