government gets tough on smoking
Posted by dorian on June 12, 2009
House approves tough tobacco bill
The US House of Representatives has backed a bill introducing tough new curbs on the tobacco industry.
The House passed the bill by 307-97, a day after it was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate. It now goes to President Obama to be signed into law.
The bill gives the US Food and Drug Administration strong powers to regulate the content and marketing of tobacco products.
It has been hailed as a milestone in the history of tobacco regulation.
About one in five Americans smoke, and the habit kills some 440,000 every year.
But tougher regulation has been stiffly opposed by the industry and tobacco’s political backers.
Until now, tobacco has been more lightly regulated than cosmetics or pet food, and previous attempts at FDA regulation were struck down by the Supreme Court as requiring congressional approval.
The bill will “make history”, President Obama said on Thursday after it was passed by the Senate by 79-17.
He may sign it into law as early as Friday.
The bill empowers the FDA to:
- Limit nicotine levels – though not banning nicotine or cigarettes entirely
- Attempt to limit the appeal of smoking among young people, by limiting the use of flavours, restricting advertising in publications targeting young people, and banning outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet (300m) of schools
- Require tobacco companies to get FDA approval for new products
- Bar terms such as “light” or “mild” in tobacco packaging which imply a smaller risk to health, and introduce graphic new health warnings of packets
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that FDA regulation could reduce underage smoking by 11% over the next decade, and adult smoking by 2%.
Paying for the new regulation is likely to end up adding to the cost of cigarettes.
Repeated efforts by supporters of greater regulation of the tobacco industry have been fiercely resisted for years by the industry and lawmakers from tobacco-producing states.
This time, the country’s biggest tobacco firm, Philip Morris, supported the bill – though rivals suggested that was because restrictions on new products would protect the company’s market share.
Observers said the bill was one of the most momentous milestones in the history of smoking since the 1964 surgeon general’s report highlighted the hazards it posed to health.
About 20% of Americans smoke – a statistic that has declined in recent years, as in many developed nations.
But in some countries smoking remains much more prevalent – for example, 50% of Namibians smoke, 47% of Mongolians and 44% of Turks, according to the World Health Organization.
Published: 2009/06/12 18:08:13 GMT
BBC News June 12, 2009
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hm. this may not be our president’s most favorite bill. isn’t he an on-again-off again smoker? this news means the cost of cigarettes will increase again. bad news for princess and sam. i only smoke my stogies during triple crown so it’s not so bad for me. saving lives will be good. the tobacco industry will have to diversify their product offerings. they should invest on more research for developing non-carcinogenic tobacco. that would be like sugarless chocolate or non-fat ice cream. 😦