October 12th, 2011

Waxman compares Republican defenders of food marketers to tobacco champions

By Julian Pecquet
The Hill

The top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday compared Republican defenders of unbridled food marketing to children to past champions of the tobacco industry.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) drew parallels between Wednesday’s hearing on proposed voluntary marketing restrictions and a 2003 hearing during which some Republicans promoted the safety of smokeless tobacco.

“Our committee’s going crazy,” Waxman said.

The 2003 hearing was called by then-chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) to examine claims that smokeless tobacco — mainly chewing tobacco and snuff — were a safe alternative to smoking.

“There is an increasing amount of research suggesting that some tobacco products are less harmful than others,” Tauzin said at the time. “For those smokers who can’t seem to quit smoking, switching to a less hazardous product could save lives.”

The government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since declared that smokeless tobacco is “not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes.”

Wednesday’s hearing aimed to raise concerns with proposed guidelines from four federal agencies that urge the food industry to voluntary restrict the marketing of certain foods to children as a way to limit childhood obesity.

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