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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

  1. Gravatar for Penny Lane

    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.

  2. Gravatar for cory

    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.

  3. Gravatar for Mike

    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.

  4. Gravatar for Travel Zim

    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!

  5. Gravatar for Camryn Hansen

    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.

  6. Gravatar for travelzim

    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.

  7. Gravatar for Penny Lane

    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].

  8. Gravatar for travelzim

    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.

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