Bill To Allow FDA Regulation of Tobacco Stalls in Senate
Negotiations over a Senate bill that would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco products stalled on Wednesday after Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Democrats reached an "impasse" over the level of authority that the agency should have, "dimming prospects" for the legislation, the New York Times reports (New York Times, 10/2). The bill, sponsored by Gregg and Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), would allow the FDA to eliminate nicotine from cigarettes and require the agency to publicly list by brand levels of harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke. The legislation also would allow the FDA to restrict tobacco advertisements targeted to children and establish new guidelines to determine whether tobacco companies can advertise redesigned cigarettes as less harmful to health. However, the bill would not allow the FDA to ban tobacco products (California Healthline, 8/1). Some Democrats and anti-tobacco advocates have objected to draft versions of the legislation circulated by Gregg because they said that the bill is "too vague" and could "undermine the agency's ability to make cigarettes less dangerous by keeping the FDA tied up in litigation with companies that don't want to comply with its changes," the Wall Street Journal reports (O'Connell, Wall Street Journal, 10/2). Negotiators also disagreed on the level of authority that states would have over tobacco companies under the bill and whether individuals could sue the companies for failure to adequately warn consumers about the health risks of their products (Zuckerbrod, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/1). "Unfortunately, the proposed legislation which Republicans put forth today falls far short of the strong FDA authority which is needed to effectively do the job," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a statement, adding, "A weak bill is worse than no bill at all, because it would give the public a false impression that their health was being protected" (Washington Post, 10/2). The "breakdown" in the negotiations "makes it less likely" that an FDA tobacco regulation bill will pass the Senate this year, the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 10/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.