In a historic move that probably has my friend ACR gnashing on his stogie, the Senate yesterday passed a bill which will allow the FDA to regulate nicotine levels, bar flavor additives in tobacco products and require tough new warning labels on cigarette packages and advertising. It is expected to clear the House today and President Obama (a former smoker himself) has already issued a statement:
it will make history by giving the scientists and medical experts at the FDA the power to take sensible steps that will reduce tobacco’s harmful effects and prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children.
Each year, Americans pay nearly $100 billion in added health care costs due to smoking. Each day, about 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers… My administration is committed to protecting our children and reforming our health care system – and moving forward with common-sense tobacco control measures is an integral part of that process. I look forward to signing this bill into law.”
The bill comes after a decade of fierce opposition from the cigarette industry and tobacco state politicians, plus threats of a veto from the Bush White House. In the end, the nation’s largest tobacco company, Philip Morris, supported the bill.
Senator Dodd, who acted as lead co-sponsor of the bill in the absence of sponsor Senator Edward Kennedy, said:
“By passing this bill we have scored a major victory for our children including the 15,000 in Connecticut who try cigarettes for the first time every year,” Dodd said. “76,000 Connecticut children, alive today, are expected to eventually die from smoking. This bill makes it harder for tobacco companies to addict our children, gives parents peace of mind, and will ultimately save lives.”