A New Front in the War Against Smoking

Susan M. Liss of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says marketing of e-cigarettes could undermine 50 years of progress.

Susan M. Liss is executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, April 2014
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
April 16, 2014, 3:31 p.m.

They may sound like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream fla­vors — Cherry Crush, Chocol­ate Treat, Peachy Keen, Grape Mint — but these are all products de­signed by e-ci­gar­ette man­u­fac­tur­ers to ap­peal to young smokers.

“This is just one more per­ni­cious at­tempt to en­cour­age young people to take up these products,” said Susan M. Liss, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Cam­paign for To­bacco-Free Kids, on the phone Wed­nes­day. “E-ci­gar­ettes look just like reg­u­lar ci­gar­ettes. Hav­ing that glam­or­ous, sexy im­age presen­ted to kids on a reg­u­lar basis with no reg­u­la­tion really has the po­ten­tial to un­der­mine 50 years of work since the sur­geon gen­er­al re­leased his re­port.”

On Monday, 11 Demo­crat­ic mem­bers of Con­gress re­leased an in­vest­ig­at­ive re­port de­tail­ing the mar­ket­ing prac­tices of e-ci­gar­ette makers and ur­ging the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to is­sue e-ci­gar­ette reg­u­la­tions.

“In the ab­sence of fed­er­al reg­u­la­tion, some e-ci­gar­ette man­u­fac­tur­ers ap­pear to be us­ing mar­ket­ing tac­tics sim­il­ar to those pre­vi­ously used by the to­bacco in­dustry to sell their products to minors,” the re­port said.

For Liss, it was just an­oth­er in­dic­a­tion that e-ci­gar­ettes — bat­tery-op­er­ated devices that con­vert li­quid nicot­ine and oth­er ad­dit­ives in­to an aer­o­sol — may do more harm than good in the battle against con­ven­tion­al ci­gar­ettes. Last year, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion re­leased a study that showed e-ci­gar­ette use among stu­dents in grades 6”“12 had doubled between 2011 and 2012.

“This re­port un­der­scores the ur­gent need for the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion to reg­u­late e-ci­gar­ettes and take ac­tion to pre­vent their mar­ket­ing and sales to kids, as it is au­thor­ized to do un­der the 2009 Fam­ily Smoking Pre­ven­tion and To­bacco Con­trol Act,” Liss said in a state­ment earli­er this week. “The FDA stated more than three years ago that it planned to as­sert jur­is­dic­tion over e-ci­gar­ettes and all oth­er to­bacco products, and it sent draft reg­u­la­tions to the White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Budget more than six months ago. But these reg­u­la­tions have yet to be is­sued.”

Liss, who has worked as an at­tor­ney in Wash­ing­ton since the late 1970s, comes to the is­sue hav­ing lost two mem­bers of her fam­ily to to­bacco-re­lated ill­nesses. Her moth­er-in-law, who smoked mul­tiple packs a day, died of throat can­cer when her late hus­band, Jef­frey F. Liss, was 10 years old. “That event shaped their en­tire fam­ily life,” said Susan Liss, who has nev­er smoked her­self.

In 2007, Jef­frey Liss died of pan­cre­at­ic can­cer, a dis­ease that has been linked to second-hand smoke. He was 55.

Born in Bal­timore, Liss, 62, stud­ied Eng­lish at the Uni­versity of Michigan and re­ceived a law de­gree from Geor­getown Uni­versity in 1977. Asked why she entered the pub­lic-policy space, Liss is un­abashedly ideal­ist­ic: “A lot of our gen­er­a­tion was really in­flu­enced, after the Wa­ter­gate era, by the no­tion that you could really do well at im­prov­ing so­ci­ety by be­com­ing a law­yer and us­ing those skills to pur­sue equal­ity and justice and pro­tec­tion for vul­ner­able people.”

Earli­er in her ca­reer, Liss served as deputy as­sist­ant at­tor­ney gen­er­al for policy de­vel­op­ment in the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion and as chief of staff to then-first lady Tip­per Gore. From 2001 to 2004, she was ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Pro­ject on Med­ic­al Li­ab­il­ity in Pennsylvania — a joint pro­ject of the Columbia Uni­versity Law School and the Pew Char­it­able Trusts — fol­lowed by a stint as dir­ect­or of fed­er­al re­la­tions for the com­mon­wealth of Mas­sachu­setts.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing at the Cam­paign for To­bacco-Free Kids, Liss was dir­ect­or of the Demo­cracy Pro­gram at New York Uni­versity Law School’s Bren­nan Cen­ter for Justice.

What We're Following See More »
FIRST WOMAN NOMINATED BY MAJOR PARTY
Hillary Clinton Accepts the Democratic Nomination for President
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president," said Hillary Clinton in becoming the first woman to accept a nomination for president from a major party. Clinton gave a wide-ranging address, both criticizing Donald Trump and speaking of what she has done in the past and hopes to do in the future. "He's taken the Republican party a long way, from morning in America to midnight in America," Clinton said of Trump. However, most of her speech focused instead on the work she has done and the work she hopes to do as president. "I will be a president of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving, the successful," she said. "For those who vote for me and for those who don't. For all Americans together."

COUNTER-CHANTS AT THE READY
Protesters Make Good on Threat to Disrupt Speech
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Supporters of Bernie Sanders promised to walk out, turn their backs, or disrupt Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, and they made good immediately, with an outburst almost as soon as Clinton began her speech. But her supporters, armed with a handy counter-chant cheat sheet distributed by the campaign, immediately began drowning them out with chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"

SUFFOLK POLL
New Survey Shows Clinton Up 9 in Pennsylvania
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."

Source:
THREE NIGHTS RUNNING
Democrats Beat Republicans in Convention Ratings So Far
12 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."

Source:
SHIFT FROM ROMNEY’S NUMBERS
Catholics, Highly Educated Moving Toward Dems
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

Catholics who attend mass at least weekly have increased their support of the Democratic nominee by 22 points, relative to 2012, when devout Catholics backed Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows that those voters with advanced degrees prefer Hillary Clinton, 51%-34%. Which, we suppose, makes the ideal Clinton voter a Catholic with a PhD in divinity.

×