Historic anti-smoking vote to give FDA new power

By chillinwill · Jun 12, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    WASHINGTON – Congress struck the government's strongest anti-smoking blow in decades Thursday with a Senate vote to give regulators new power to limit nicotine in cigarettes, drastically curtail ads and ban candied tobacco products aimed at young people.

    Cigarette foes say the changes could cut into the 400,000 deaths every year caused by smoking and reduce the $100 billion in annual health care costs linked to tobacco.

    The legislation, one of the most dramatic anti-smoking initiatives since the U.S. surgeon general's warning 45 years ago that tobacco causes lung cancer, would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the content, marketing and advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

    "This legislation represents the strongest action Congress has ever taken to reduce tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of death in the United States," declared Matthew Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.

    The 79-17 Senate vote sends the measure back to the House, which in April passed a similar but not identical version. House acceptance of the Senate bill would send it directly to President Barack Obama, who supports the action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that "from what I have seen so far, I believe it will be possible for us to accept their bill and send it right on to the president."

    Obama's signature would then add tobacco to other huge, nationally important areas that have come under greater government supervision since his presidency began. Those include banking, housing and autos. Still to come, if Congress can agree: health care.

    Supporters of FDA regulation of tobacco have struggled for more than a decade to overcome powerful resistance — from the industry and elsewhere. In 2000 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the agency did not have the authority under current law to regulate tobacco products, and the George W. Bush administration opposed several previous efforts by Congress to write a new law.

    Thursday's legislation gives the FDA power to evaluate the contents of tobacco products and to order changes or bans on those that are a danger to public health. The agency could limit nicotine yields but not ban nicotine or cigarettes.

    Regulators could prohibit tobacco companies from using candy or other flavors in cigarettes that tend to attract young smokers, and restrict advertising in publications often read by teenagers. Rules on sales to minors would be toughened, as would warning labels. Tobacco companies would have to get FDA approval for new products, and would be barred from using terms such as "light" or "mild" that imply a smaller health risk.

    Costs of the new program would be paid for through a fee imposed on tobacco companies.

    "This is a bill that will protect children and will protect America," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a leading supporter. "Every day that we don't act, 3,500 American kids — children — will light up for the first time. That is enough to fill 70 school buses."

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA regulation could reduce underage smoking by 11 percent over the next decade. There are more than 40 million smokers in America.

    The bill, said American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown, "provides a tremendous opportunity to finally hold tobacco companies accountable and restrict efforts to addict more children and adults."

    The tobacco lobby, contended Durbin, has long been the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill, "and they managed to create an exemption in virtually every law so that no federal agency could take a look at them and regulate them."

    But the industry has also taken hits in recent years as the dangers of smoking became more apparent and states moved to limit smoking in public places. In 1998 the industry agreed to pay the states $206 billion to help cover health care costs, and this year Congress raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack, to fund a health care program for children.

    The nation's largest tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris, USA, has come out in support of the legislation. Its parent company, Altria Group, said in a statement that on balance, "the legislation is an important step forward to achieve the goal we share with others to provide federal regulation of tobacco products."

    Its main rivals, however, have voiced opposition, arguing in part that FDA restrictions on new products will lock in Philip Morris' share of the market.

    Lawmakers portrayed the bill as a major first step in bringing down health care costs, an essential goal of the health care overhaul legislation that is the top priority of the Obama administration this year.

    "This bill may do more in the area of prevention, if adopted, than anything else we may include in the health care bill in the short term," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who managed the legislation on the Senate floor in the absence of the ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who has long promoted FDA regulation.

    Opponents, led by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of the tobacco-growing state of North Carolina, argued that the FDA, which is in charge of ensuring the safety of food and drug products, was the wrong place to regulate an item that is injurious to health.

    He also contended that the bill would restrict tobacco companies, including several based in his state, from developing new products that might be less harmful to users. He unsuccessfully proposed the creation of a new agency that would both regulate tobacco products and encourage efforts to make cigarettes less harmful.

    Thu Jun 11, 7:53 pm ET
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  1. Rightnow289
    Senate Passes Pathetic Tobacco Control Bill

    (NaturalNews) There's no other word to describe it: The U.S. Senate's tobacco control bill is pathetic.

    It bans candy cigarettes and fruit-flavored cigarettes, but doesn't even require cigarette companies to disclose the ingredients they use until nearly a year-and-a-half later. The bill bans the use of the word "light" from cigarette packages, but even the tobacco companies admit this will make virtually no difference, as smokers have grown accustomed to buying cigarettes labeled with color codes that indicate a "light" designation.

    And perhaps most importantly, this bill now puts the FDA in the position of approving the marketing and consumption of a product that directly promotes heart disease, strokes and cancer. The FDA, in other words, will now lend its stamp of approval to a product that openly kills people.

    Tobacco as an FDA-approved drug?
    If the FDA has any ethics whatsoever, it must ban tobacco products outright. For how can the Food and Drug Administration approve the marketing and selling of a deadly carcinogenic product when, at the same time, it bans cherry growers from describing the everyday health benefits of cherries?

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for approving the marketing and distribution of both foods and drugs. Cigarettes are obviously not foods or dietary supplements, and since tobacco is inhaled for its pharmacological effects, that clearly puts cigarettes in the drugs category. So if this bill becomes law, it will force the FDA to declare tobacco to be a drug.

    So if tobacco is a drug, then where are the safety tests required for drug approval? The FDA assaults fruit and herb companies on a daily basis, threatening them with being shut down for selling "unapproved drugs," and yet now the FDA is about to be put in the position of approving an admittedly deadly product that has no health benefits whatsoever while contributing to serious degenerative disease!

    Interestingly, this position is not at all unusual for the FDA. The agency has already granted approval to thousands of toxic chemicals that openly harm human health -- pharmaceuticals. FDA-approved drugs, after all, kill over 100,000 Americans each year. If the FDA's portfolio of drugs includes tobacco, that number will rise to well over half a million Americans killed each year by FDA-approved drugs!

    Furthermore, it would make laughable any claim by the FDA that it is working to "protect the public." As the agency approving the marketing, sale and consumption of a product that inarguably kills over 400,000 people a year, the FDA would cement its position as a peddler of poison.

    The War on (some) Drugs
    Placing tobacco under "approved" status at the FDA also raises a glaring contradiction in the U.S. government's so-called "War on Drugs." Tobacco is, without question, a psychoactive, highly-addictive drug that is consumed by people in an addictive and destructive way. Marijuana, by comparison, is less addictive, making it far less destructive to health overall. So why is tobacco about to become an FDA-approved drug while marijuana remains an herb whose very possession results in a consumer being branded a criminal and thrown in prison?

    Friday, June 12, 2009 by: Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor
    Source - http://www.naturalnews.com/026438_tobacco_the_FDA_drugs.html
  2. chibi curmudgeon
    Re: Senate Passes Pathetic Tobacco Control Bill

    Eh....I don't think some people realize just how much credibility they lose--with real scientists, that is--when they imply that fruits and herbs = good and synthetic chemicals = bad. The writer doesn't seem to understand the reasoning behind FDA regulation; it's not all about a "stamp of approval." This is an important aspect of our war on prohibition: regulation. Drugs outside the FDA's jurisdiction cannot be regulated by them, and thus end up potentially dangerous, like street heroin vs. oxycodone tablets.

    There is a very good reason for the FDA to prohibit cherry growers from advertising the health benefits of cherries. If someone comes up to you and says "Sounds like you've got a nasty cough. This leaf will cure it, I'll sell it to you for $5," do you just take them at their word? The FDA was created to protect consumers from snake oil-pushing shysters. Cherry growers are free to organize scientifically sound clinical trials proving any benefits of cherries, but until they have this proof, it would be unethical at best for the FDA to allow these claims to be made.

    The FDA already allows the use of nicotine for smoking cessation, but since you can buy nicotine-containing products without a prescription (if you're over 18), there's nothing stopping anyone from chewing nicotine gum for the same reasons people smoke. They're aware that alcohol prohibition doesn't work, and I can only imagine the riots resulting from legions of smokers forced to go cold turkey!

    Essentially, what the FDA is doing is harm reduction. They can't ban smoking, but they can attempt to keep people from starting. The tobacco companies are not behind this "approval." They fought it tooth and nail.

    Obviously, the FDA should approve marijuana as well, but tobacco is a big step on its own.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Senate Passes Pathetic Tobacco Control Bill

    Swims turtle wonders why swiy thinks this is a "pathetic" bill- it goes too far or not far enough?

    for full disclosure Swims turtle smokes.

    Swims turtle is happy for the most part with what he has seen of this bill. He believes one of the biggest problems with cigarettes is the hundreds of chemicals added to cigarettes, with absolutely no disclosure.
    Tobacco in and of itself is harmful and addicitive- but these chemicals are downright deadly and many add greatly to the addictive potential.
  4. Rightnow289
    Re: Senate Passes Pathetic Tobacco Control Bill

    I didn't write the article I just posted it
  5. Nature Boy
    Re: Senate Passes Pathetic Tobacco Control Bill

    Pathetic indeed. You can only snigger at their petty attempts to sway people off the idea of lighter cigarettes and the like. They pulled the same stunt over here (think it might have been an EU decision) so cigarettes like John Player Lights just became John Player 'Bright Blue'. It makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. That article makes the obvious point about the war on "(some)" drugs, as they amusingly put it. It brings about real questions about the nature of government adhering to silly traditions, even if it kills millions, just so that they don't rock the status quo. If certain drugs are going to be banned for causing harm then no rational person can argue that tobacco is safer than so many of the drugs that are prohibited. Either they scrap the war on drugs and take a civil libertarian stance or they ban cigarettes outright and freak out millions of tar-lunged Americans.
  6. Mickeld
    SWIM has a solution for the estimated 4,000 deaths caused by tobacco in America.... LEGALIZE MARIJUANA! Government officials are dumba**es SWIM swear.
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