FDA Regulation of Tobacco Could Be on the Horizon
A bipartisan group of Senate and House members on Thursday introduced a bill that would allow FDA to regulate tobacco products, the Los Angeles Times reports (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 2/16). In previous years, similar legislation has failed, but supporters of the latest bill "believe it will fare better in the Democratic-controlled House and Senate," the AP/Miami Herald reports.
Bill sponsors include Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.). The legislation would allow FDA to:
- Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of their products and tobacco smoke (Bridges, AP/Miami Herald, 2/15);
- Issue regulations to prevent youth smoking and reduce the number of individuals addicted to tobacco products;
- Regulate the sale, distribution and promotion of tobacco products;
- Eliminate the use of cigarette vending machines;
- Require larger warning labels on tobacco products;
- Prohibit claims about the health effects of tobacco products that are not scientifically verified;
- Prohibit the use of promotional terms such as "light," "ultralight" and "low tar" on tobacco products; and
- Require tobacco companies to remove toxic ingredients or reduce nicotine levels in their products (Carroll, Louisville Courier-Journal, 2/16).
Kennedy and Cornyn said that the Senate version of the bill has 29 bipartisan co-sponsors (Armstrong, CQ Today, 2/15). Co-sponsors reportedly include 2008 presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 2/16).
Waxman and Davis said that the House version of the legislation has 100 bipartisan co-sponsors.
Davis said, "We're going to have very big margins," adding, "We could override" a veto by President Bush.
The Bush administration previously has opposed similar bills.
Kennedy said that the Senate HELP Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation on Feb. 22 (CQ Today, 2/15).