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Policy Brief

ACP-ASIM supports Mass. efforts to disclose contents of cigarettes

From the March 2001 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2001 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

ACP-ASIM has signed an amicus brief supporting efforts by Massachusetts lawmakers to force tobacco companies to publicize the ingredients they use to make cigarettes.

A trial court last fall struck down a Massachusetts law requiring tobacco companies to release information about the ingredients they put in cigarettes. The state law would require the tobacco industry to provide the state with certain test results on those ingredients and allow the state to disclose that information to the public.

In early February, the College joined several other medical organizations and signed a “friend of the court” brief that was sent to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief, which was written by the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids, supports public disclosure of the substances used to make cigarettes.

Tobacco companies now provide the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with an aggregate list of nearly 600 ingredients they use to make cigarettes. Under current law, however, that list may not be publicly disclosed.

“Consumers receive a list of ingredients on most of the products they ingest, and these ingredients are subject to scrutiny by public health officials, scientists and consumers themselves,” said Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, FACP, President of ACP-ASIM. “Tobacco manufacturers have escaped oversight for years by claiming special protections are needed, which begs the question: Why?”

ACP-ASIM has long supported the need for federal legislation to mandate disclosure of tobacco products ingredients and their known and believes the Massachusetts law to be constitutional.

More information about the College’s efforts is available at www.acponline.org/college/pressroom/cigarette_contents.htm.

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