For Immediate Release

APHA Strongly Objects to Decrease in Penalties Levied Against the Tobacco Industry

U.S. Government Backs Down from Mandating Full Funding for Smoking-Cessation Programs Designed to Save Millions of Lives

Statement from Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, Executive Director

Washington, D.C., June 8, 2005 –“The American Public Health Association decries the decision yesterday of the Justice Department to request drastically lowered penalties during closing arguments in its lawsuit against the tobacco industry for crucial dollars needed to fund smoking-cessation programs. After presenting a very strong case, the Justice Department asked for only $10 billion over five years in penalties disregarding previous testimony from the government’s own expert who determined that $130 billion is necessary to fund these programs. To lower penalties from $130 billion to $10 billion is unconscionable and places the financial interests of the industry above fighting this nation’s leading cause of death.

“In the United States alone, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people each year and costs our nation a massive $75 billion in direct health care costs. Tobacco products are virtually unregulated and, every day, hundreds of children become tobacco users.

“Science shows that it’s never too late to stop smoking. The government’s decision is bad policy, bad economics and downright short-sighted.”

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