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HOME > 2002 STOP LIQUOR ADS ON NBC > NAAAPI DENOUNCES PREEMTIVE TOBACCO LEGISLATION

National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) Denounces Preemptive Tobacco Legislation
Contact: Rev. Jesse Brown, Executive Director
215-235-6488, info@naaapi.org,

Philadelphia, PA, July 12, 2002
The National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) is outraged by Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker's support of misleading legislation to restrict sales of tobacco products to minors. The legislation, signed yesterday by the governor, includes preemption prohibiting Pennsylvania cities, towns, and counties from passing stronger, more effective tobacco control laws. "The language in this legislation denies Philadelphia, and other Pennsylvania cities, the right to pass laws that are stronger and more effective than what Gov. Schweiker has signed into law," says Reverend Jesse Brown, Executive Director of NAAAPI.

Preemption has emerged as the tobacco industry's primary legislative strategy to overturn and prohibit future efforts to adopt local tobacco control ordinances. Advocates recognize preemption as the biggest barrier at all levels of government when trying to enact stricter tobacco control legislation. Preemption is a successful strategy for the tobacco industry as demonstrated by yesterday's statewide legislation. Despite Gov. Schweiker's claim that the new legislation will protect the health and future of Pennsylvania's children, tobacco control advocates view the legislation as an enormous move backwards.

"Gov. Schweiker is not helping, and is in actuality victimizing, Pennsylvania's children," says Rev. Brown. Preemption aside, advocates view Pennsylvania's statewide legislation as weak and ineffective. Overwhelming evidence indicates that the best way to combat youth tobacco use is through comprehensive sustainable tobacco control programs. For example, California's comprehensive approach to smoking prevention and cessation produced a 14 percent decline in the incidence of lung cancer from 1988 to 1997 and smoking rates have declined more rapidly compared with the rest of the country. If Pennsylvania achieved just a one-percentage point reduction per year for five years 59,120 Pennsylvania children alive today would be spared a premature death from tobacco use. Thousands of deaths from tobacco use could be prevented and $4 billion in annual health care costs related to tobacco use could be saved if Pennsylvania made a long-term investment to prevent tobacco-related disease and death.

In addition to not being comprehensive, advocates criticize the legislation for penalizing minors as opposed to putting the responsibility squarely where it belongs - on the tobacco industry and the retailers who illegally sell to minors. Penalizing minors has not proven to be an effective technique to reduce underage tobacco use. In fact, penalties may adversely affect existing programs that are proven to be effective and are required, such as compliance checks utilizing young people.

About NAAAPI
The National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery (NAAAPI) is a non-profit, educational organization formed in 1991 by African American activists. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the primary goal of NAAAPI is to eliminate the marketing of tobacco, alcohol and other harmful products in communities of color throughout the nation. In doing so, NAAAPI provides technical assistance to local groups around the country in support of media and advertising images of African Americans that are positive and healthy. Funding for NAAAPI comes from individual contributions, foundations and government support.

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National Association of African Americans for Positive Imagery
1231 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19122 P: 215-235-6488 F: 215-235-6491 E: info@naaapi.org