Stan Glantz receives Terry Award and comments on FDA regulation

Professor Stan Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco is undoubtably one of the most experienced and effective tobacco control scientists and campaigners in the world. While I don’t agree with everything he says, his past track record requires that his opinions on important policy issues be given serious consideration. In the past week Professor Glantz was presented with one of the highest honors in his field, the Luther Terry Distinguished Career Award. He took that opportunity to explain to his opinion on the current bill to enable FDA to regulate tobacco. A colleague passed on the text of his speech and I thought it worth posting here in full:

Remarks for Luther Terry Distinguished Career Award??
Stanton Glantz ?March 12, 2009? Mumbai India??

" First, and most importantly, I want to thank the American? Cancer Society for the great honor or receiving the Luther Terry ?Distinguished Career Award. Most would say this is the highest honor that? one can receive in the field of tobacco control.?? But, for me, this is actually the second highest honor I have ?received from the American Cancer Society. The greatest honor was 15 years ?ago, in 1994, and I have never had the opportunity to publicly thank the? American Cancer Society and John Seffrin in particular.?? In 1994, shortly after the Republicans took control of the US? Congress, Congressman John Porter, the chair of the budget subcommittee? that controlled the National Cancer Institute, quietly added language to? the bill directing NCI the terminate my research funding. Of course, the?y did not mention me by name and we only found out about this language by? dumb luck: One of my students' sister was interning with another member of ?the committee and found language in the bill saying something like, "no? funds appropriated under this bill shall be used to fund dumpy professors? in San Francisco working on tobacco."?? This was very scary. Despite this threat to the grant, I was a ?tenured professor at the University of California and I was personally? safe.?? The same was not true, however, for my fellows and researchers?- some of whom are here - who were paid by the grant. They were very ?concerned about losing their jobs and asked me if they should be looking? elsewhere.?? Loosing this talented team would have been a disaster, even if? the grant was eventually saved, so I went to several agencies and asked for? a quiet "insurance policy" in the form of a commitment for one year of? funding if we lost the battle in Congress so that I could tell my staff to ?just keep working. ??

And I have to say that some people declined help. I was too ?controversial. The Republicans had just taken control of Congress and no?one knew what to expect. Tobacco was not the only issue they were working ?on and did not want to jeapordize important relationships.?? The American Cancer Society was different. They gave me that? insurance policy so that I could tell my staff to just keep working.?? But, the ACS, led by John Seffrin did much more than that. ?John and ACS joined the effort to pressure Congressman Porter to remove the ?language from the bill.?? This was a controversial position inside ACS. Porter was a? strong supporter of cancer research and there were those who did not want? to risk funding for molecular biology and clinical trials to support some? crazy tobacco researcher. And worst of all, I had from time to time ?actually criticized and challenged the ACS.?? But John, Harmon Eyre, and other said that what was being done? to me was just wrong and did the heavy lifting and took the risks that were ?necessary to reverse this decision.?? They succeeded - we succeeded - and there is no question that? saving that grant is what allowed me to do much of the work that led to ?this award today.?? Second, I have been struck by the number of people who have ?expressed surprise that ACS gave me this award. As just noted, I have, on? occasion, challenged the American Cancer Society in ways that could not? have been comfortable for them. ?? At the 12th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Helsinki,? Finland, the ACS fought hard to bring the 13th World Conference to ?Washington, DC, which, at the time was not a smoke free city. ?? I was the closing speaker at the Helsinki meeting and I? challenged ACS to make sure that Washington was smokefree by the time of ?the meeting. To show that I was serious, I announced that I would not be ?attending the meeting unless the city was smokefree.?? Needless to say, there were many in ACS who were very unhappy? with me and my fellow awardee Dileep Bal called, told me I was crazy, and ?asked me to reconsider. I said "no" and some others made similar pledges? not to attend.?? John Seffrin knew I was right and under his leadership, ACS? joined with other advocates and, by the time the 13th World Conference? opened, Washington was a smokefree city.?? This effort was not easy, but everyone pulled together and? prevailed.?? Which brings me to my third point, the currently pending? legislation to grant the US Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction over ?tobacco products.?? While I agree with everyone else that the FDA should have? jurisdiction over tobacco, I was never a fan of this bill because it was a?deal with Philip Morris and I figured no deal with Philip Morris would be a?good thing for public health in the long run.?? My opposition has been, until recently, subdued for two? reasons.?? First, while I was not enthused about the bill, I figured that? the damage it did would be limited to issues of product regulation,? something that I have not seen as central to tobacco control.?? Second, Matt Myers has been an important and helpful supporter? of my Smoke Free Movies campaign and, in addition to signing some of the? advocacy advertisements, has played an important behind-the-scenes role in ?heading off some serious challenges to the campaign. I did not want to? anger them over the FDA.?? Four things changed my view.?? First, I was in Washington, DC and had breakfast with Sharon ?Eubanks, the brilliant lawyer who won the US Department of Justice ?racketeering lawsuit against Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies.? She has just read the bill and went off at great length on all the legal? procedural traps in the bill. Second, I re-read two important papers my UCSF colleagues ?Patricia McDaniel and Ruth Malone that used the tobacco industry documents ?to explain Philip Morris' Project Sunrise and specific reasons for wanting? the FDA bill, the provisions they wanted, and, most important, how this? would help them sell more cigarettes. We don't have to speculate on these? points; it is all there in Philip Morris own words.?? Third, I became increasingly concerned by the number of ?respected tobacco control leaders, who, like me, said that they were? privately concerned about the bill but not willing to say anything ?publicly.?? Fourth, a few weeks ago, Dick Daynard, a lawyer who has been? very active in efforts to support the Framework Convention for Tobacco? Control, pointed out to me that the FDA bill violated Article 5.3, which is? designed to prevent government "partnerships" with the tobacco industry. ?The FDA bill creates a Scientific Advisory Committee that is central to the ?regulator process and which is required to have two tobacco industry ?representatives.?? They are nonvoting, but they are there. Not only does this? violate Article 5.3, but is makes no sense. If the Department of Justice? was forming a committee to develop policy on racketeering, would it want a? law requiring nonvoting members who were racketeers? I think not.?? For these reasons, I think that the damage that this bill will? do extends far beyond the narrow confines of product regulation and could ?do great damage to tobacco control, not only in the United States, but? globally. It could easily become the precedent for undermining Article 5.3?in the 163 countries that have ratified the FCTC.?? Is it possible to fix this bill? Yes. ??We have a new president who has already demonstrated that he is? committed to putting science above politics and who has direct personal? experience with nicotine addiction. If we are willing to speak with a? clear voice on the need for an unambiguously public health-oriented bill ?that is not a compromise with the industry, I believe Obama and the new? Congressional leadership will listen.?? But they can't give us what we want if we don't ask.?? Fixing this bill will not be easy, but, based on my experience? with ACS taking strong, principled positions in the past and doing the hard? work it takes to win, I am confident that we can.?? So, I have challenge for the ACS and every American in the ?room: Fix this bill Take a clear position that you will not support any ?legislation that is not consistent with the FCTC. ?? Thank you again for your recognition and support.”

So Professor Glantz believes the current bill has flaws that need to be fixed, and he is not alone. As mentioned in my previous post, I (and others) have some similar and some additional reservations about parts of this bill. I believe that even in its current form, the bill represents a big step forward and would not want bickering over the final details to derail its progress. But lets hope that we can get an improved version of this bill passed into law within the next few months.

You can learn more about Professor Stan Glantz at:
  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author

MA, MAppSci, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Foulds is an expert in the field of tobacco addiction.