APA Offers President Clinton Tobacco-Related Scientific Expertise

In an effort to enlighten the current public debate concerning the tobacco industry, APA President Robert J. Resnick, PhD, and Chief Executive Officer Raymond D. Fowler, PhD, presented APA as a scientific resource to the administration in an October 12 letter to President Clinton. The letter commends the President and his administration for their regulatory efforts to protect our nation's youth from the serious health risks associated with the use of tobacco products.

It was noted in the letter that APA is currently in the process of responding to the proposed rule set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to restrict the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to minors. President Clinton was informed of the vast body of relevant psychological research in areas ranging from psychopharmacology to community psychology that might help guide public policy decisions. The APA letter raised the question of whether the proposed rule will be sufficient to achieve its stated goal of reducing the number of children and adolescents who use tobacco products by roughly 1/2 within 7 years of rule publication. Yet in light of the current political climate, APA offered support for the incremental approach adopted by the FDA and assistance in efforts to revise and implement the proposed rule.

The upcoming APA response to the proposed FDA rule (which is being developed with formal input from seven APA divisions) has the potential to have a significant impact on public policy development in this area. APA has clear expertise to offer on this issue, because the onset of smoking is a behavioral event. As of late October, the FDA had received about 50,000 responses, with only one substantive comment addressing the specific provisions. APA is joined by other health-related organizations in promoting a grassroots campaign to encourage favorable responses to FDA tobacco regulation in an effort to counter the onslaught of negative comments generated by the tobacco industry. APA efforts in this area are bolstered by a 1994 APA Council of Representatives resolution supporting the Association's involvement in federal efforts to curtail youth access and demand for tobacco products.

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