Churches Urge Candidates to Prevent Tobacco Use

A coalition of national faith leaders is urging President Bush and presumed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to support measures to reduce tobacco use, especially among children.

“Our clergy spends too much time burying mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers who die because they became addicted to tobacco products when they were young,” according to the Faith United Against Tobacco letter sent to the candidates. “We know all too well that the tobacco companies continue to spend billions of dollars to addict young and old to this deadly product. We also know that the federal government can reduce this addiction, particularly among vulnerable children, by fully regulating tobacco products, increasing the tax on cigarettes and expanding tobacco prevention and cessation services. For our children’s sake, we urge you to do so.”

The coalition is urging the two presidential candidates to endorse legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products; support legislation that would increase the national tobacco tax and use the money raised to enhance tobacco prevention and cessation services and fund healthcare expansion for children; and support the federal lawsuit against the tobacco companies.

Members of the coalition include the United Methodist Church; Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Seventh-day Adventist Church; Woman’s Christian Temperance Union; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Islamic Society of North America; Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism; Progressive National Baptist Convention; American Baptist Churches of the South; Church Women United; International Parish Nurse Resource Center; Church of the Brethren; Interfaith Health Program, Emory University; Presbyterian Church (USA); National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA; Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; Inter- Religious Coalition on Smoking or Health; United Church of Christ; and Health Ministries Association.