April 2, 2009

Tobacco Industry Might be Drastically Changing

Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers were asked to give the government powers over the tobacco industry, introducing new curbs on marketing tactics and cigarette ingredients.

The House of Representatives was expected to approve The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act late Wednesday or on Thursday, however the legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

Supporters of the bill hope that the combining of President Obama's support and years of successfully expanding restrictions on who can smoke, and what, and where, will bring success in 2009.

This measure would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco products.

Henry Waxman, Democratic Representative of California, authored the bill and says it is needed because 400,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses each year and over 1,000 children start smoking every day.

The measure would require the FDA to enforce rules that would ban all outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, and will end all tobacco-brand sponsorship of sport and entertainment events.

This will also restrict vending machine and self-service sales to adult-online facilities, while requiring vendors to verify age for all over-the-counter sales of tobacco products.

The legislation would require tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients of their products to the FDA, while allowing the agency to require changes to protect public health, though not to reduce nicotine content to zero or band a class of tobacco products.

It would also require greater health warnings that are more specific, which would cover the top third of the front and near panels of the package and give the FDA the power to require graphic warning labels that cover half of the front and rear panels.


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