Oppose Smoking on Airliners : Doctors Urge Stepped-up AMA Assault on Tobacco

Associated Press

Doctors on Monday asked the American Medical Assn. to step up its assault on tobacco use by working to ban smoking on airliners and to outlaw sales of tobacco products to people under age 21.

“I think it’s kind of a shame that the AMA has been Johnny-come-lately on this issue,” Dr. George M. Bohigian said. “The surgeon general years ago took the lead. We should have been the organization taking the lead.”

Bohigian spoke before the AMA’s committee on public health, which heard a spate of tobacco-related reports and resolutions on the second day of the five-day annual meeting of the nation’s largest organization of doctors.

In Washington, a spokesman for the Tobacco Institute countered by saying a recent poll of more than 1,000 Americans commissioned by his organization showed they thought smoking was the least important of six issues organized medicine might tackle.


“The public was much more interested in seeing the AMA address the high costs of medical care, increasing the quality of care for the poor and elderly, reducing the costs of medical equipment, increasing the availability of physicians and decreasing waiting time in doctors’ offices,” institute spokesman Scott Stapf said.

The AMA’s public health panel was scheduled today to make recommendations on reports and resolutions to the 386-member House of Delegates, which makes policy for the organization’s 271,000 members.

The strongest tobacco-related resolution, which notes that 314,000 deaths and $3.4 billion in Medicare costs are blamed on smoking annually, calls for:

--Developing model legislation to bar smoking on all commercial airline flights in the continental United States.


--Supporting legislation to control smoking in public places, to prohibit vending-machine sales of tobacco products and to outlaw sales of tobacco to people under age 21.

--Favoring legislation to prohibit sales of tobacco products in health-care institutions.

--Pushing for a higher federal excise tax on cigarettes.

--Continuing educational efforts to help people from kindergarten age on up to avoid using tobacco.


--Banning smoking at all AMA functions.