The House this week voted to empower the FDA to regulate tobacco, just in case people still smoke even after new taxes push the cost of cigarettes to over $9 per pack and the recession bankrupts everyone. Under the measure, which passed 298-112, the FDA would be able to set nicotine levels, control cigarette advertising, and require companies to provide a full list of cigarette ingredients. As usual, the killjoys in the Senate may force the House to smoke a light version of the cigarette bill…
The bipartisan senators from North Carolina, a leading tobacco-growing state, have joined to introduce a competing bill in the Senate that would give tobacco regulatory power not to the FDA, but to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., would create the Tobacco Regulatory Agency within the department. A similar House alternative by Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., was defeated 284-142.
What the passed House bill will do instead is create within 90 days of its enactment a Center for Tobacco Products within the FDA that will report to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs just like all other FDA entities.
Philip Morris, the nation’s largest cigarette maker, supports the House version of the bill, figuring that FDA oversight will kill any potential competitor.
The Senate is expected to take up the measure after the Easter recess.