Thursday, June 11, 2009

Senate approves FDA regulatory power for tobacco

On a broad bipartisan basis (79-17), the U.S. Senate voted this afternoon to grant regulatory power over tobacco to the Food and Drug Administration. The bill is a watershed moment in tobacco control history. Some products (like candy-flavored tobacco) will be banned. Tobacco industry marketing tactics will be curtailed. Expect to see drastic changes in how tobacco is marketed, labeled, and which new products enter the marketplace.

It's a great day for tobacco control, public health in Wisconsin, and in the U.S.

For more information on the bill, check out:

Going forward:

The House of Representatives passed a similar (but not identical) version of the bill in April; the House must now vote on the Senate's version, or enter conference committee to hammer out the differences. Following today's vote, Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed optimistic that the Senate's version would pass the House. Once approved by both houses of the legislature, the bill will await only President Obama's approval. Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill.

An estimate produced by the Congressional Budget Office predicted that FDA regulation of tobacco could reduce underage smoking by 11 percent over the next decade.

A long time coming:

Health advocates have sought regulatory reform on tobacco for decades. Tobacco industry lobbyists, often with the vocal support of representatives from tobacco-producing states, have long stood in the way of reform efforts. President George W. Bush's administration also opposed reform and a 2000 Supreme Court ruling (5-4) found that the FDA did not have authority under current law to regulate tobacco products.

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