Saturday, June 13, 2009

House Sends Tobacco Regulation Bill to President Obama

June 12, 2009 – 12:00 p.m.
By CQ Staff

Legislation authorizing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the nicotine content, marketing and labeling of cigarettes and other tobacco products was cleared by the House on Friday.

It represents the strongest government action in years to crack down on smoking, which health authorities have repeatedly identified as the No. 1 preventable cause of death in America.

The 307-97 vote to concur in the Senate’s amendments sent the bill (HR 1256) to President Obama, who has said he will sign it. The Senate passed its amended version of the measure Thursday by 79-17.

Sponsored by Henry A. Waxman , D-Calif., in the House and Edward M. Kennedy , D-Mass., in the Senate (S 982), the legislation would put tobacco products under tough government regulation for the first time.

It caps a battle that has gone on since 1996, when the FDA first tried to regulate tobacco products to deter youth smoking — only to be thwarted by a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that it lacked authority to do so.

“It’s hard to believe that we have finally reached this day after more than a decade of effort and countless defeats along the way,” said Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “I’m proud that we’ve made it to this point, but it has taken us far too long.”

He said that “times have changed, and public opinion has changed,” breaking the influence of a once-powerful tobacco lobby. (Continue - Link)

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