U.S. House considers legislation for FDA to regulate tobacco..

March 4, 2009 - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce and Energy Committee is taking up legislation (Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act - text of bill H.R. 1256), that would place tobacco under the control of the Food and Drug Administration. Among other things, the bill would restrict the ways tobacco companies market cigarettes, require them to disclose the ingredients in their products and place larger warning labels on packages, and give the FDA the authority to require the removal of harmful chemicals and additives from cigarettes.

Some critics say the bill, largely the product of years of negotiation between cigarette giant Philip Morris and the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, does not go far enough. "This is a big gift to Philip Morris and a big scam," said Joel L. Nitzkin, chairman of the tobacco-control task force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians. "Our initial impression was, 'Gee, this would be great.' But when we read through the entire 160 pages, we were horrified by what we saw."

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and other competitors oppose the bill, saying new restrictions on marketing and product development are likely to freeze market share, giving an unfair advantage to Phillip Morris.

There are questions about whether the FDA is the agency to regulate tobacco. Consumers may get the impression that tobacco is safe if it is regulated by the FDA.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), whose state is home to R.J. Reynolds, has threatened to filibuster the legislation when it reaches the Senate.

Reference: Bill Would Put Tobacco Under FDA Control
Under Legislation, Agency Could Require Removal of Harmful Chemicals, Additives
, by Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post Staff Writer, 3/4/2009; Page A02.

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