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Congress: the FDA Will Now Control Cigarettes

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The Senate voted today and the House is expected to vote tomorrow to pass The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a critical piece of legislation that will allow the FDA to regulate cigarettes and other forms of tobacco.

Currently, a full twenty percent of Americans smoke, and 400,000 die every year from diseases related to smoking.

The new legislation, which President Obama is expected to sign as soon as it reaches his desk (he co-sponsored the bill when he was in the Senate), will allow the FDA to regulate the chemicals in cigarette smoke, ban cigarette flavorings (which are said to entice children and teens into the deadly habit), and look into banning menthol (which has links to higher rates of lung cancer). There are about 60 cancer-causing chemicals and 4000 poisonous chemicals in cigarette smoke: these would all be reduced under the auspices of the FDA.

However, though the FDA may also be able to reduce the amount of addictive nicotine in cigarettes, this legislation expressly forbids the agency to ban it altogether. Researchers have suggested that doing so might force addicts to turn to the black market for their nic fixes.

The law would also further restrict marketing and advertising of tobacco products. Colorful advertising and store displays will be replaced by black-and-white-only text as part of restrictions aimed at reducing the appeal to youth to try smoking. Cigarette makers will be required to stop using terms like “light” and “low tar” by next year and to place large and graphic health warnings on their packages by 2012.

“This long-overdue grant of authority to F.D.A. to regulate tobacco products means that the agency can finally take the actions needed to protect our people from the most deadly of all consumer products,” Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who was chief sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, said in a statement from home, where he is receiving treatment for a brain tumor. -The New York Times

The wholly bipartisan legislation passed in the Senate by a 3:1 ratio; it has equally bipartisan support in the House.

14 Comments

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Very good news, hopefully it will make a difference on future lives saved.

  2. Penny Lane says:
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    This is a good first step. Of course Phillip Morris helped draft the bill and managed to keep menthol in cigarettes. It directly affects African Americans who prefer those. Why help cause more lung cancer is beyond me. Perhaps we’ll see this #1 KILLER banned entirely.

  3. cory says:
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    so my things is we are so concerned on helping prevent kids from buying cigs,and people from dieing from lung cancer yet we send are own people to diffrent countries and they get killed there,we have homeless people dieing, people with out health care are suffering children are suffering because there familys can not support them.we have so many more concerns we sould be worry about rather than if people want to smoke.almost every smokers know the risks they are taking.lets spend are money else were, places we need it and not so are govn can make more money off us. this country is so far in debt yet we can spend millions of dollars on stupid things like this.

  4. Mike says:
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    As silly as it is to smoke in the first place, taking away peoples and businesses liberties like this is far more dangerous than the lives possibly saved. Like a wise economist once said “I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have the right to smoke, I just think they’re fools to do it.”. People need to understand that it’s up to the individual to decide what they want to do, so long as it doesn’t harm some one else, or as so long as the companies selling these products aren’t engaging in fraud. I’m an ex smoker and encourage people to quit, but I would never say our government should force people to quit, that is not freedom by any definition.

  5. Rod says:
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    Is there anyone who does not know the danger of smoking? Buy more MO

  6. Travel Zim says:
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    One more intrusion in personal lives. I am not a smoker (I quit in 1983) but I believe government should not have the power to intrude into a person’s lifestyle. I only go to restaurants that don’t permit smoking (except in Europe) but do not support government bans on smoking in restaurants. Let the free markets and individual preferences dictate that. What’s next! Perhaps we should ban coffee as it is too stimulating!

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    Smoking bans in public indoor spaces are crucial for the employees who work there, whether smokers or not. A bartender or server who works one 8-hour shift in a crowded, smoky bar inhales the equivalent of 3 packs of cigarettes during that time: this is often not a matter of employee personal choice, but of financial necessity. Smoking bans had no adverse consequences on business when they went into effect in New York or Philadelphia restaurants, and employees no longer have to contend with the health hazards of perpetual smoke in their workplace.

    Regardless of bans, it is ridiculous to argue that cutting down the toxic chemicals in cigarettes is a violation of anybody’s civil liberties. If anything, it prolongs the period during which we can all enjoy our civil liberties, because cigarettes haven’t killed us yet.

  8. travelzim says:
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    Let’s lower alcohol content to a level so that we don’t have to worry about drunk drivers. That way we can prolong the period during which we can all enjoy our civil liberties because drunk drivers haven’t killed us yet. Ms. Hansen probably believes that guns kill people not the ones who illegaly hold them to commit crimes.

    Bottom line is that we do have choices to include employees who can go to owners and request they do not permit smoking in their businesses. Then it will be the choice of the owner who has the most at stake to determine whether or not to do it. Columbus and other cities businesses took big hits with the anti-smoking bill just like the city who is crying poor and wants to raise taxes yet decided to not permit gun shows to be held in the Columbus convention center at the cost of 10s of millions of dollars ofincome to the economy. Government has no business being in these endeavors. The smoking ban inside bars drove all the smokers outside to the patios.

    Contrary to Ms. Hansen’s feeble argumen, anytime government controls or limits one’s personal choice it is an infringement of their civil liberty.

  9. Penny Lane says:
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    Don’t worry about the crazies who oppose this law. They are tobacco company shills. In the old days, the tobacco companies paid doctors to say cigarette smoking is safe. Now they have blog writers spewing this stuff. Did they notice that the bill was passed by an overwhelming number of R’s and D’s? They’re the only ones who don’t get it. I pray none of their loved ones ever die from lung cancer [like the Marlboro Man did].

  10. travelzim says:
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    It’s just that I don’t believe in government “in loco parentis”. It doesn’t matter whether 100% in Congress voted for it. It doesn’t make it right. Over 50% of the people don’t agree with the law. So much for representation. Just look how government is destroying the country’s economy, business, education, health and security programs, to name a few. It’s your constitutional right to follow the pied pipers and mine to reject them. Be careful where they lead you. Name calling is for the lame who do not have a logical argument. Penny was up quite late (1:26 am); probably too much caffeine.

  11. Frank H. Robinson says:
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    I’m 27 years old, a relatively well-off American citizen. I began smoking about 9 months ago. I made this choice well into adulthood and understand the health risks. I smoke Djarum Blacks primarily; a clove cigarette imported from Indonesia. It is neither Obama’s, nor Congress’, nor the FDA’s, nor my best friend’s, right, to make that decision for me.

    I am a registered Democrat who has voted in every presidential election since I was old enough to do so, from Al Gore to Barack Obama. I contributed $117 of money that was very difficult to part with last Fall to Obama’s campaign. However he has lost not only my support for 2012, but so have the state Democrats in Philip-Morris’ pockets who voted for this bill. They are Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl of Wisconsin. They do not represent my interests.

    I should note that I have held these beliefs of personal liberty and choice since I was old enough to understand such concepts. Whether or not I was a smoker, I would believe this to be wrong.

    I am not sure I am going to vote again in another state or federal election. Democrats are ineffective enough in fighting the fights that matter (gay rights, indefinitely detaining “terrorist suspects” with no evidence, the rights of incarcerated individuals to DNA tests) that they aren’t worth putting up with the nanny-state politics that they ARE quite effective at. And I sure as heck could never vote Republican. If I do vote again, it will be for Libertarian candidates that represent my best interests. And none of them will ever get in state or federal office.

    America has been sliding into this for the past few decades, under both major parties. America is a center-right country, leaning harder to the Right, and is not a country that represents my own values as it promises. Restricting my choices as an adult, ostensibly for the benefit of underage adults (13-18), makes little sense. I will spend far more of my lifetime as an adult than I did as a child. My parents were in charge of raising me, not the government, and that is why I didn’t start smoking until recently. It was MY choice. I was raised right. Now my freedom to hurt myself is restricted, to protect the children of parents who have failed at doing their job.

    What Philip Morris’ law will ultimately do is create criminals. It’s already created one – myself. I guess even as an adult, it’s possible to make mistakes. How little I knew that, last Fall, when I began smoking, I was going to become a criminal in 2009. Now I will have to buy cigarettes on the (Djarum) Black market. Another fresh body for our bloated prison system, alongside the hundreds of thousands of marijuana users currently incarcerated for the crime of deciding for themselves how to treat their bodies.

  12. Pat Gunderson says:
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    I am 16 and have been a smoker for almost a year. I new it was bad for me when I started, hard on my body and on my wallet, but it is my right as a human. Its my body and il do what I want with it.

    Im in rehab right now for smoking Crack and am getting out in 3 days. I plan on starting to smoke cigarettes again.

    It would be easier for me to quit smoking Crack 10 times then quit smoking cigarettes. People sneek Cigarettes and Chew into rehab more than drugs.

    Im a dedicated smoker and its my body, my choice.

    Peace and love – Pat

  13. Keith Rodriques says:
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    I started smoking about two years ago at the age of 26 and I was well aware of the risks of smoking. I grew up in a home where both of my parents smoked and too many times my parents warned me of the dangers of smoking. I didn’t start smoking because of flashy advertisements. If children are smoking, it is because of the lack of responsibility, supervision and education provided by adults. The U.S. government differs very little from a successful magician. Many of the country’s politicians, with the president at the helm, are masters of misdirection. There are so many problems that require a greater amount of attention than cigarettes. G.W. Bush shifted the public eye from the stressing economy to the war on terror. Now we have Barack Obama who, has unfortunately been put into a difficult scenario but, needs to focus on the more pressing issues. My point-of-view has not been altered by the smoking of cigarettes. Look at it this way: By supporting this bill as a parent, you’re asking the government to help to control your child. By supporting this bill as a person with no children, you are probably one of the many who feel that you’re better than a smoker. Smokers can be stereotyped as unclean, ignorant, wreckless and/or selfish. I can understand if you don’t want to inhale my smoke. I don’t feel that the government should regulate cigarettes in such a way that, in a majority, affects those that aren’t affected by the reasoning for the bill to begin with. You can add warnings, alter ads, ban “flavors” but one fact remains: Those who want to smoke will smoke, however penalized, including children. This is only a feeble attempt at making it look like progress when it comes to cigarettes. I propose this: The government should stop punishing the consumer of cigarettes while the manufacturer still remains corrupt, wealthy and generally unaffected by such changes. If any changes are to be made, it should just be that nicotine and other pollutants and carcinogens be labelled as illegal drugs. Until then, I should be able to purchase a pack or carton of my Djarum Blacks in peace and smoke them in the comfort of my home. Also, as far as some cigarettes are concerned, I agree that flavorings in cigarettes are wrong. I also feel that if a cigarette, in its raw form, is considered to not have an additive to alter flavor, then it should not be banned. Kreteks are cigarettes and the do have a distinctive flavoring that differs from that of a normal cigarette. These flavors are not added. The tobacco is blended with clove to produce this flavor. Menthol is more of an additive in terms of the manufacturing process. The reason it wasn’t affected is because mainstream tobacco, headed by Phillip Morris, helped to propose this conditional bill that does not affect them. It would had menthol been considered a flavor. Funny how that works. The banning of flavorings, except menthol, to single out such cigarettes is just a ploy, conjured up by politicians and tobacco lobbyists hand-in-hand to create a monopoly centered around mainstream cigarettes. This is the same type of scenario that our government is poised to correct. It’s just given a different name and excuse as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Phillip Morris doesn’t care about america’s youth and neither does the corrupt politician, both with their pockets open wide. Phillip Morris and other major cigarette manufacturers gain exclusivity in the U.S. and the politicians get handsomely rewarded. So, while the government turns your eye from the still suffering economy, the war on terror, health care, education, Social Security or any other prevalent issue in today’s society keep in mind that a decision that benefits you may not always be the same for the majority. By the government making decisions for us, it violates the the very essence of the Constitution of the United States. Granted, there is not single amendment that grants such liberties but I argue this. When is it the government’s responsibility to step in and tell us what we should and should not do according to what’s good for us as individuals? Especially when the solution to the problem is more an issue stemming from a lack of common sense and education. I am outraged to think that our government believe us to be so naively stupid to believe what they claim is their true intent. I believe that effective planning, including realistic statistics, should govern the legislative process. Politics in general is a field of service to your fellow man. I honestly do not feel any service being performed here with this piece of legislation.

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    It makes sense to me that with the rising costs of implementing health care reform that smoking should be regulated.

    However, being a smoker of “flavored” tobaccos, particularly Djarum Blacks. This ban would make the selling of such products illegal. I don’t consider myself a heavy smoker purchasing a couple packs a month for those rough days after work. To me it’s a luxury and one that I’m going to find difficult to let go.

    The whole point of doing is to prevent kids from picking up smoking, however this will only increase the desire for them to find such products. Same thing with prohibition, scarcity and deprivation always increases desire. I don’t see these cigarettes becoming scarce but their use increasing amongst responsible users.