TOBACCO: Frist, McCain Propose FDA Authority Rules Bill
Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Senate Commerce Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) plan to introduce legislation today that would afford the FDA direct authority to regulate tobacco products, and antitobacco groups claim the bill is "too limited" to protect public health, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. Based partly on a failed 1998 bipartisan measure, the bill would: create a "new framework" for FDA tobacco regulation; require ingredient disclosure for new products; provide incentives for safer products and allow the FDA to update warning labels over time. The legislation, however, differs with the 1998 bill. The new version would grant the FDA power to regulate advertising only when it relates to children. It would also prevent the FDA from "instituting performance standards if those standards would make tobacco products unacceptable to adult users." This restriction would force the FDA to restart its rule making procedure, a process which opponents argue could take at least two years to complete and would "flood the agency with comments" from the tobacco industry. "It appears to give the FDA authority, but in fact, the bill includes so many restrictions that the FDA won't be able to protect public health," Bill Corr, executive vice president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said. "Rather than quickly saving lives, this bill will do little, if anything, to reduce the number of children who start smoking or the number of adults who die from smoking," Corr added. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) is expected to introduce similar legislation this week that is closer to the 1998 proposal (Fulton, 5/16).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.