Senate health committee takes another look at FDA regulation of tobacco — MedCity morning read, May 20, 2009

11:43 am by | 0 Comments

Burning cigaretteThe U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is expected to take up again this afternoon legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products.

“Today, the Senate begins the final steps toward passage of legislation that should have been enacted years ago — authority for the FDA to regulate tobacco products, the most lethal of all consumer products,” Sen. Edward Kennedy, who chairs the committee, said Tuesday in a written statement.

The U.S. House “overwhelmingly passed a nearly identical bill last month,” Sen. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said. “Once approved by this committee, the FDA Tobacco bill will move quickly to the Senate floor, where it has the support of a strong bipartisan majority. President Obama is anxiously waiting to sign it into law.”

What can the FDA accomplish? According to Kennedy, it can, among other things, regulate tobacco advertising to children, help smokers overcome their addictions, and make tobacco products less toxic and addictive.

Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said an amendment they proposed to study and report on the health effects of tobacco candy was added to the legislation on  Tuesday.

It’s not the first time the FDA has tried to regulate tobacco, according to Scientific American. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked rules crafted by then FDA Commissioner David Kessler, saying the food and drug agency lacked the authority to regulate tobacco without congressional action. The Senate also passed a similar bill five years ago.

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Mary Vanac

By Mary Vanac

Mary Vanac is a co-founder of MedCity News.
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