The Oral Cancer Foundation predicts 36,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer in the U.S. this year alone. Alarming predictions such as this one may diminish with President Obama's Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This recently signed act was enforced to target teenagers by making tobacco use less attractive; thus, reducing tobacco related illnesses and diseases, such as oral cancer.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Arizona ranks 23rd among the states in youth tobacco use. Among Arizona youths ranging 12 to 17 years of age, 6.5 percent to 15.9 percent of the youth population smoke tobacco. This is an average of 10.6 percent. This large percentage may be due to many factors of which the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act is attempting to tackle.

Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, three provisions took effect. The first provision limits the sale, distribution and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The second provision prohibits the advertising or labeling of tobacco products with descriptors that indicate a "light," "mild" or "low" tobacco concentration without Food and Drug Administration's approval. The third provision requires larger health warning labels on smokeless tobacco packaging. The law also prohibits the sale of tobacco products to people younger than age 18, bans free distribution of tobacco products and prevents tobacco companies from sponsoring athletic, musical and other cultural events. The theory behind the act is to make tobacco less appealing and less available, thus causing less usage in the population.

The Oral Cancer Foundation states that although there are many factors that play a role in causing oral cancer, tobacco usage is one strong factor that can be avoided. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act hopes to create this avoidance by limiting the exposure of tobacco products to the public.

Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900 or visit


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