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Congress Approves Tobacco Regulation Bill

On June 11, the Senate approved, 79-17, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (H.R. 1256), after adopting, by unanimous consent, a substitute amendment by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). The substitute amendment does not alter any of the tobacco-related provisions in the bill; rather, it makes changes to provisions regarding federal retiree benefits. The House agreed, 307-97, to the Senate amendment on June 12; it initially approved the bill on April 2 (see The Source, 4/3/09). President Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.

The bill would authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products, including requiring the disclosure of harmful ingredients and mandating larger health warnings. The FDA began drafting a framework for regulating tobacco products in 1996, but the Supreme Court ruled in FDA v. Brown & Williamson (2000) that it lacked the authority to do so.

During debate on the measure, the Senate rejected, 36-60, a substitute amendment by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) that would have stripped the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco and instead created a “tobacco harm reduction center” independent of the FDA.

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