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April 1, 2008 ­ (US)

After Decades, Bill To Regulate Tobacco As A 'Drug' May Become Law

Filed by Raw Story

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The Food and Drug Administration may finally bring tobacco into its fold.

A long-stalled bill vehemently opposed by the tobacco industry is set to move forward in Congress, which would grant the FDA power to regulate cigarette additives.

It would not, however, allow the FDA to ban nicotine.

"This week, the bill is likely to pass the House Energy and Commerce Committee," the Wall Street Journal reveals Tuesday.

"Supporters hope for a vote by the full House later this spring. The bill could still run into barriers in the Senate, and the FDA commissioner, a Bush administration appointee, has raised concerns about it."

"The bill's progress could position tobacco regulation as an election-year issue for supporters in both parties eager to capitalize on the industry's unpopularity.

"If the bill passes Congress, Democrats would be able to flag it as a significant legislative accomplishment after more than a decade of efforts to grant the FDA sway over tobacco," they added.

"If Republicans stop the bill, either in the Senate or through a presidential veto, that could also play well for Democrats on the campaign trail eager to burnish their health-care and regulatory credentials.

All three presidential candidates -- Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. John McCain -- are co-sponsors of the Senate version of the FDA bill.

"The bill would lead to sweeping changes in both the FDA and the tobacco industry," the Journal adds.

"It would put into law ideas that former FDA Commissioner David Kessler pushed in the 1990s, before his effort was struck down by the Supreme Court.

"Among other powers, the bill would allow the FDA to set product standards, which could include limiting certain ingredients in cigarettes.

"Tobacco makers, whose products have been largely unregulated, would have to turn over to the agency extensive information and win FDA approval for claims that products carry reduced health risks. The agency would get the ability to regulate advertising of tobacco products."

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