Landmark Bill to Regulate Tobacco

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration tried almost 10 years ago to start regulating the tobacco industry by going after the use of nicotine in cigarettes, but that effort was shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled Congress first had to give such authority to the FDA. Well, the FDA will soon have that power, and more, following the passage of a landmark bill on Friday that will considerably curb the activities of tobacco companies to promote smoking.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Barack Obama has pledged to sign, will allow the FDA to set standards that could reduce nicotine content and regulate the 60 carcinogens and 4,000 toxins found in cigarette smoke. The law also bans most tobacco flavorings, which have made cigarettes easier to sell. However, lawmakers decided not to include the popular Menthol additive in the legislation.
The law also will make it tougher for tobacco companies to market their products, banning the use of colorful ads and store displays and the use of outdoor advertising of tobacco within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. Also, cigarette makers will be prevented from using terms like “light” and “low tar.”
Furthermore, the tobacco industry will have to finance the FDA’s new regulatory program, which is likely to add 6 cents to the cost of each pack of cigarettes, further making the habit that much harder to continue for some smokers.
It is estimated that about 20% of Americans still smoke, despite the decline in tobacco use in recent decades. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated the new law will reduce youth smoking by 11% and adult smoking by 2% over the next decade.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Senate Approves Tight Regulation Over Cigarettes (by Duff Wilson, New York Times)


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