Widely supported measure now advances to the Senate
The U.S. House of Representatives voted on April 2 to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco products. The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1256) passed easily by a vote of 298-112. It will now proceed to the U.S. Senate and could be signed into law by the summer.
Short of giving the FDA power to ban tobacco products or eliminate nicotine completely, the legislation would empower the agency to regulate levels of nicotine and other ingredients, as well as force greater disclosure of the contents of tobacco products and restrict false or misleading advertising. The FDA's tobacco regulation functions will be funded by user fees on tobacco product manufacturers.
A similar bill passed the House last summer, but stalled in the Senate after former President Bush threatened a veto. The Obama administration, on the other hand, has been a strong proponent of the measure and recently confirmed its support through a Statement of Administration Policy.
The bill enjoys broad support from public health advocacy groups and is also backed by cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris U.S.A. Opponents fear the impact of regulation on the tobacco industry and also question whether FDA is the appropriate agency to provide oversight.
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