Michael Pertschuk

Recent Articles

Fight Smoke with Fire

Why taking on Big Tobacco in the name of children's health is a winning issue for Democrats.

S ometime soon, on the basis of two years of exhaustive investigation and legal analysis, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler is likely to make a formal finding that tobacco products, cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco are drug delivery devices within his agency's jurisdiction. He will likely find that tobacco companies target teenagers in their marketing strategies and deliberately manipulate nicotine levels in their products to create and sustain nicotine addiction. And, he will probably conclude, since 90 percent of smokers become addicted before the age of 21, nicotine addiction is a pediatric disease. With that finding, Kessler is likely to consider the following initiatives: restrictions designed to limit youth access to tobacco (already in place but ineffective), such as barring the sale of cigarettes in unattended vending machines; limited restraints on advertising and promotion techniques, such as seductive images, that induce children to use tobacco; the...