Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 79-17:
“This bill will save lives. This vote was a victory for common sense, public health and our nation’s future.
“Senator Kennedy, Senator Dodd and the HELP Committee’s bipartisan bill will keep American children and families healthier, and will keep tobacco companies honest about the dangers of using their poisonous products by strengthening existing warning labels. The bill will also make it harder for those companies to sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to children, and for tobacco companies to lure our children in the first place. It will also help those who smoke overcome their addictions and make tobacco products less toxic for those who cannot or do not want to stop.
“With 3,500 kids trying smoking for the first time every day, 3.5 million of our nation’s high school students smoking and nearly half a million Americans dying every year as a result of their smoking or someone else’s, this bill could not come at a more important time.
“Tobacco-related deaths are among the most painful and the most preventable, and tobacco-related health care costs Americans almost $100 billion every year. In fact, state and federal governments spend about $60 billion every year on Medicare and Medicaid payments for health problems created by tobacco. So this bill will not only save lives; it will also save taxpayer money.”