A coalition of about two dozen consumer, health and insurance groups delivered to President Bush and other government leaders Monday proposals for tougher health and safety laws to protect Americans.
The Coalition for Consumer Health and Safety made specific policy recommendations in six product-related areas in which accidents result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of injuries each year.Stephen Brobeck, coalition chairman who also is executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, said copies of the agenda were delivered to Bush, Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, Health Secretary Louis Sullivan and top congressional leaders. The coalition also requested meetings to discuss the policy recommendations, he said.
"For the first time ever, national consumer groups and large insurance organizations have united behind a wide-ranging program to improve consumer health and safety," Brobeck said.
"The stakes are enormous - hundreds of thousands of lives are lost, millions of injuries and illnesses are suffered, and hundreds of billions of dollars in medical and related costs are spent each year as a result of products that pose unreasonable risk to consumers."
Among the policy recommendations, the coalition called for:
-Motor vehicle safety that includes tougher drunken driving laws and increased efforts to educate the public on the dangers of drinking and driving.
-Home and product safety, including improvements in the operation and funding of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal agency charged with protecting consumers from unsafe consumer products.
-Indoor Air Quality, with federal legislation to provide a comprehensive approach to resolving problems with indoor air pollution.
-Food safety and nutrition, with development of a mandatory inspection program for fish and shellfish - two foods currently not subject to any type of thorough inspection procedures.
-Smoking restrictions in public facilities, particularly on public transportation.
-Limitations on alcohol advertising directed at underage drinkers.
Brobeck said the agenda also focused on acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the deadly disease that destroys the body's ability to fight infection. With 82,764 AIDS cases reported in the United States as of Jan. 3, the coalition urged private and public officials to make personal commitments to educate the general public about AIDS and called on employers to adopt more humane corporate policies toward those with the disease.
The coalition consists of 13 consumer health groups and 13 insurer groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Retired Persons, the Center for Auto Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Alliance of American Insurers, Allstate Insurance Co. and State Farm Insurance Cos.