Wall Street Journal Examines Obstacles for FDA Tobacco Regulation Legislation
The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined obstacles for legislation included in a Senate-passed corporate tax relief bill (HR 4520) that would allow FDA to regulate the manufacture, promotion and sale of tobacco products. For example, the House-passed version of the corporate tax relief bill includes "no provisions for FDA regulation at all," and lawmakers could decide remove the FDA tobacco regulation legislation from the final bill in conference committee. In addition, the Bush administration has sent "mixed signals" on the issue of FDA tobacco regulation, according to the Journal. President Bush has promoted youth smoking prevention efforts over FDA tobacco regulation, but HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has spoken in favor of such regulation.
Most tobacco companies also oppose the FDA tobacco regulation legislation. Officials for Altria Group, parent company for Philip Morris USA, said that they support the legislation in part because the bill could help the company "fend off" competition, the Journal reports. Altria legislative counsel Mark Berlind said, "We have said clearly -- and we continue to believe -- that the FDA should be involved" in the regulation of tobacco products "so consumers will have confidence that marketing claims have been substantiated." However, R.J. Reynolds Executive Vice President Tommy Payne said that the FDA tobacco regulation legislation is "one of the most anticompetitive bills that either house of Congress has ever approved." Some anti-tobacco advocates also have raised concerns about the FDA tobacco regulation legislation.
Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco, said, "The public health community has decided to make a deal with Philip Morris, and I haven't found any instances where compromise with the tobacco companies has helped the public health in the long run" (O'Connell/Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 7/19).