Doctors at the American Medical Association debated their next steps in the war against smoking, weighing suggestions to oppose smokeless cigarettes, clove cigarettes and smoking on all airline flights.
Discussing the reports and resolutions in several committee meetings at the AMA's annual policy-setting meeting, there was little argument by doctors against most of the anti-tobacco ideas."The war is not over," said Dr. Alvin Smith of Ormond Beach, Fla. "We still have enormous battles with the tobacco industry."
One issue that drew some opposition was a report by AMA trustees urging re-affirmation of the doctors' earlier call for doubling the tax on a pack of cigarettes and using the money to pay for Medicare and Medicaid. The report also affirmed a call for ending government subsidies for tobacco growers.
It cited government figures showing 1985 health care costs for treating smoking-related illness amounted to about $22 billion and productivity losses due to smoking-related illness were about $43 billion. The report said there was little value in further efforts to document the costs of smoking.
Three doctors objected to the AMA spelling out how the federal government should spend the money from higher taxes on cigarettes. Dr. Arnold Breit of San Mateo, Calif., said he favors the intent of the resolutions, but opposes any "undue influence on other agencies that the AMA should not undertake at this time."
Another resolution urged requiring U.S. cigarrette makers to put foreign language health warnings on exported cigarettes. "This addresses one of the darker sides of American trade," said one doctor, who branded the tobacco industry as "one of the most aggressive, deceptive of all advertisers."
Another committee considered a resolution urging the AMA to "strongly object to the introduction of `smokeless' cigarrettes," that are under development by one manufacturer.
Smokeless cigarettes send heat through a flavor capsule, delivering carbon monoxide and nicotine - but probably less tar - into the lungs.