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Tobacco Exec Reveals Secret Talks on Past Control Bill
For the first time, a senior executive from Philip Morris USA is publicly speaking out about a 1990s government plan to regulate tobacco that was opposed by retired Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner David Kessler, ABC News reported Sept. 8.
According to Steve Parrish, a senior executive for Philip Morris in the 1990s, Koop and Kessler, known for their fight against the tobacco industry, decided not to back what might have become one of the most comprehensive tobacco-control bills in U.S. history. The measure would have given the FDA control over the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and earmark billions of dollars for anti-smoking campaigns.
"They squandered a historic opportunity, and now we have a situation where none of their goals are being met," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who drafted the legislation.
The secret meetings were held while Kessler was commissioner of the FDA. In the first meeting, the tobacco industry agreed to FDA regulation and was prepared to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs for which they had been sued. In exchange, the industry wanted immunity from lawsuits.
The negotiations moved along until Kessler and other public-health officials learned about the legal protection provision. "If negotiators stand up and say there is an agreement, they do that at their peril," Kessler warned at the time.
On June 20, 1997, the attorneys general and the tobacco companies reached an agreement. McCain drafted the bill and consulted with Kessler and Koop. Along the way, the bill became even tougher on the tobacco industry.
With the tobacco industry insisting on some legal protection from lawsuits, McCain added a compromise to his legislation. It capped the amount Big Tobacco would have to pay in a single year if they lost in court to $6.5 billion.
McCain's bill passed the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on April 1, 1998 by a 19-1 vote. But with Koop and Kessler remaining critical of the bill, the tobacco industry pulled back its support. As a result, the legislation failed to pass the full Senate.
To this day, McCain blames Kessler and Koop for the bill's defeat. "I was deeply, deeply disappointed at the behavior of both of them," McCain said. "They both personally assured me that they would support the bill."
In the ABC report, Kessler said he rejected the bill because it would have allowed Big Tobacco to remain profitable. "It's not about the dollars," Kessler said. "It's about assuring the industry its future."
In the current legislation session, a tobacco-regulation bill is once again before the U.S. Congress. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill, which also includes a buyout for tobacco farmers. The House has yet to vote on the measure.
What is Rapid Detox?
Also referred to as 'ultra rapid opiate detox,' it is a rapid detoxification procedure for opiate based substances and addictions such as heroin, vicodin, methadone, or any prescribed narcotic pain killers.
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