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Welcome, Overview, and Charge

October 26, 2000: Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

David Satcher, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General

Dr. Satcher opened the meeting by welcoming members of the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health (ICSH) and other attendees to the Committee's first meeting of the 21st century. He reviewed the establishment of the Committee under the authority of the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act of 1984 and its charge to coordinate research, educational programs, and other activities related to smoking and health and provide a liaison function to appropriate private organizations and federal, state, and local public health agencies regarding smoking and health activities. The ICSH reports to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Surgeon General and is staffed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health.

Although the Committee has not met formally since 1994, the members have been quite active. Highlights from the past 6 years include the following:

  • HHS has released three Surgeon General's Reports on Smoking and Health [Preventing Tobacco use Among Young People (1994); Tobacco Use Among US Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups (1998); and, most recently, Reducing Tobacco Use (2000)].
  • CDC released Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, an evidence-based guide to help states plan and establish effective tobacco control programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use. The book identifies and describes the key elements for effective state tobacco control programs.
  • In this period of time, CDC has begun to provide funding and technical assistance to all 50 state health departments, the District of Columbia, 7 territories, 11 national organizations, 6 tribal support centers, and 9 national networks.
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released smoking cessation guidelines in 1996 and the U.S. Public Health Service updated those guidelines in 2000.
  • In January, HHS released its national health promotion/disease prevention objectives and blueprint for action. As in the year 2000 objectives, tobacco is one of the Healthy People 2010 priority areas. Tobacco use is now also one of the 10 leading health indicators.
  • The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) has made it possible to think big. We now have to make sure that more funds recovered from the MSA are devoted to comprehensive efforts to control tobacco.
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Medical Association launched the SmokeLess States grant program to fund local initiatives for prevention of tobacco use.
  • HHS released the final rule on the Synar Amendment related to eliminating illegal sales of tobacco to minors.
  • We have seen increases in federal and state tobacco excise taxes; these increases serve as an effective deterrent to smoking.
  • In 1997, President Clinton issued a ban on smoking in federal work sites.
  • We can learn from our neighbors in the north. Canada is about to release some very impressive health warning messages on all tobacco products.
  • We have also had challenges. Most recently the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have regulatory authority over tobacco, and part of the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to recover Medicare funds spent on tobacco-related illness and death has been terminated.

Dr. Satcher described progress, on balance, as very positive and expressed his gratitude to those in attendance.

In turning to the topic of this meeting, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Dr. Satcher expressed his commitment to this important activity. The FCTC was initiated in May 1999, when the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) unanimously approved a resolution calling for governments to negotiate an international treaty to stem the global epidemic of tobacco-related death and disease. The United States and many other countries around the world have pledged financial and political support to the process and are in the process of negotiations.

Dr. Satcher asked everyone present to introduce themselves (see list of participants), invited comments on the agenda (there were none), and introduced the first speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Koplan.

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