Health Law

Want a smoke-free generation? Ban tobacco sales to anyone born this century, law prof says


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If you want to cut tobacco deaths, you need look no further than federal legislation signed into law in 2009, according to a law professor.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act paves the way for two aggressive approaches, according to a New York Times op-ed by Northeastern University law professor Richard Daynard.

The law allows the Food and Drug Administration to regulate nicotine yields, though the yields cannot be cut to zero, he says. “The FDA would be well within its authority to require nicotine content to be below addictive levels,” Daynard writes. “If the FDA insisted on the change, and cigarettes ceased to be addictive, ample evidence shows that most smokers would quit or switch to less toxic nicotine products. Current nonsmokers, moreover, would be far less likely to become addicted.”

Another provision of the smoking prevention law allows state and local governments to ban the sale and possession of tobacco products by individuals of any age. “This provides an opportunity for states, counties and cities to adopt the Smokefree Generation,” he writes, citing a proposal first made by a Singapore mathematics professor. “The idea is simple: no one born in or after 2000 can ever be sold cigarettes.”

Daynard’s goal is to reduce smoking rates in the United States below 10 percent. Currently fewer than 20 percent of Americans smoke.

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