Philip Morris Wants FDA Tobacco Regulation
Lobbying Congress to pass legislation granting the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco is Philip Morris' "No. 1 priority," the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. After the Supreme Court ruled that FDA regulation would require the "permission of Congress," the tobacco firm released a 14-page document called "FDA and Tobacco." More "detailed" than any other document previously distributed by the company, the document states that Philip Morris would support a requirement that information on nicotine and "cancer causing nitrosamines" be disclosed. In addition, "FDA and Tobacco," which has been distributed to "friends and foe alike" on Capitol Hill, states that the FDA should regulate the "manufacture of cigarettes and ingredients" added to them. Steven Parrish, a senior vice president at the tobacco firm, said that it "makes sense from a business standpoint" to support federal legislation (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12). He said that the company supports federal legislation because it opposes a "patchwork" of state regulations. "If we had to produce and manufacture packs with 50 different warning labels that would go to 50 different states, it (would be) an operational nightmare," Parrish said (Mitchell, Media General/Winston-Salem Journal, 4/12).
Under Philip Morris' proposal, the FDA could "demand" the removal of ingredients from cigarettes that "increase the inherent danger of smoking," so long as the removal did not make the products "unsmokable." In addition, the company wants the FDA to define what constitutes a "safer" or "reduced risk" cigarette. While not endorsing the plan, lawmakers have signaled they are "willing to work" with Philip Morris (Richwine, Reuters/Boston Globe, 4/12). Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "What I told them was if they were going to work in good faith for FDA regulation, which would reduce sales to children and increase warnings to consumers, I would be willing to work with them" (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12)
Philip Morris, however, is not supporting any of the "several bills" that have been introduced that would give the FDA regulatory authority. Some of the bills under consideration would require the FDA to "police" the tobacco industry under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which Philip Morris does not support. In addition, the firm is opposing a bill by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that would allow the FDA to mandate changes in the manufacturing process. Philip Morris wants regulation restricted to cigarettes and not on tobacco itself or tobacco farmers(Media General/Winston-Salem Journal, 4/12).
The AP/Inquirer reports that while health advocates support FDA regulation, they view Philip Morris' lobbying effort as "clever and troubling." Paul Billings, a lobbyist for the American Lung Association, said the company was trying to improve its image while ensuring the regulations are "written to its liking." Anti-smoking advocates said the FDA should be able to remove any ingredient from cigarettes, even those not added by the companies (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12). William Corr, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the Philip Morris plan would be a "serious setback" to the restrictions the industry agreed to in 1997 as part of the nationwide settlement. He said, "This proposal will ensure Philip Morris a continuing market. It will not protect the American public, and it will not protect kids from marketing" (Reuters/Boston Globe, 4/12).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.