FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill Overwhelmingly Passed U.S. House..

July 30, 2008 -
The U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday overwhelmingly passed (326 to 102) the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act, legislation that would give the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco, from cigarettes to new kinds of smokeless products. While the bill appears to have enough support to pass this year, it is unclear whether the Senate will have time to act now faces an uphill climb in the Senate, where a similar bill has been stalled since last August.

President Susan Ivey
Reynolds American Inc. said, "We really don't think it will reach the Senate floor." "We continue to have dialogue to talk about potential alternative regulation. And we prepare ourselves for any implications of this current FDA bill," she said. Reynolds and other bill opponents have argued that by limiting marketing, it would protect Philip Morris' position as market leader. If the Senate and House fail to pass the same tobacco-regulation bill and get it signed it into law, then lawmakers will have to restart the process with a new bill when the new Congress begins in 2009.

The bill represents a compromise between major tobacco control groups and Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest tobacco company.

PM USA, however, is hoping the legislation could lead to a new market in federally certified, reduced-risk tobacco products. The bill sets up a process for the FDA to scientifically assess manufacturer claims that certain cigarettes are less risky. The legislation appears to set a high bar to such claims. Not only must a reduced-risk product "significantly" reduce harm to tobacco users, but it also must "benefit the health" of the entire population. A less risky cigarette that enticed nonsmokers to light up might not meet that test.

A potentially thorny issue as the bill heads to the Senate will be its treatment of menthol, a highly popular flavoring with black smokers. Black Lawmakers Want to Limit Use of Menthol Cigarettes..

But some supporters said the bill was more about protecting children than adults. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) said tobacco use has become synonymous with rugged independence and a refutation of authority, traits that he said many teens desire. "In large part, the marketing tactics by tobacco manufacturers fanned the flames of youthful angst," he said.

References: Broad tobacco regulation bill clears House, Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Braden Reddall and Carol Bishopric), Reuters-NewsDaily.com, 7/30/2008 and House passes bill to regulate tobacco by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press, 7/30/2008.

H.R. 1108 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act