Senate Panel Delays Mark Up of Tobacco Regulation Bill
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Wednesday delayed consideration of a bill (S 625) that would allow FDA to regulate the sale, distribution and promotion of tobacco products because of a lack of quorum and several proposed amendments, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 7/26).
The committee on Thursday will consider the legislation, sponsored by committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and as many as 30 amendments (Armstrong, CQ Today, 7/25). The legislation would require FDA to:
- Regulate levels of tar, nicotine and other ingredients in tobacco products;
- Prohibit magazine and point-of-sale advertisements for tobacco products;
- Review new tobacco products before they enter the market;
- Establish national standards for the production of tobacco products; and
- Require the disclosure of ingredients in tobacco products (California Healthline, 7/17).
The committee on Wednesday by voice vote approved an amendment proposed by committee ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) that would require graphic warning labels on tobacco products similar to those used in Canada and other nations (CQ Today, 7/25).
Enzi said that the "warnings convey the truth in no uncertain terms" (Bridges, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/25).
In addition, the committee voted 12-9 to reject an amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that would have delayed implementation of the bill until the Institute of Medicine completed a study of the cost and effects of FDA regulation of tobacco products (CQ Today, 7/25).
Hatch said, "FDA is having a very difficult time performing its current responsibilities. To add such an enormous responsibility such as regulating tobacco simply doesn't make sense" (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/25).
The legislation appears to have "strong momentum on Capitol Hill, despite opposition from some lawmakers, particularly Republicans, and aggressive lobbying by the tobacco companies," in large part because "it is undesirable and politically untenable to side with the tobacco industry amid broad public disapproval of smoking," the Wall Street Journal reports (Lueck/Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 7/26).
According to CQ Today, the committee likely will pass the bill, and the legislation -- which has 52 co-sponsors, 12 of whom are Republicans -- likely will "get a vote and perhaps passage" on the Senate floor.
However, the House Energy and Commerce Committee likely will not consider a companion bill (HR 1108) sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) until at least September (CQ Today, 7/25).
President Bush has raised concerns about the legislation but has not threatened a veto (Wall Street Journal, 7/26).
American Public Media's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Wednesday reported on the bill. The segment includes comments from Derek Scholes of the American Heart Association (Tyler, "Marketplace Morning Report," American Public Media," 7/25). Audio and a transcript of the segment are available online.