Congress Passes Tobacco Crackdown
Bill Gives FDA Power Over Cigarettes, Ending Decade-Long Fight
“I go to the core mission of the FDA, to approve the safety and efficacy of
every product that they regulate. Can they do that with tobacco? No. Which
means they’re going to turn their head on their core mission on one product,
and that’s not going to spill over to the other products? Are the American
people really ready to take that risk?” he said in an interview.
Public health, medical, and religious groups all came out strongly for the
Margaret A. Hamburg, the newly appointed FDA commissioner, issued a
statement saying the agency “welcomes the authority” to regulate tobacco.
“We view our new responsibilities as a logical extension of our public
health mission,” she said.
About 400,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are attributable to smoking, according to the CDC.
About one-fifth of U.S. adults smoke. Though the number has dropped over the
last several decades, public health experts have been troubled by a recent
leveling-off in adult and youth smoking numbers.
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the chairman of the HELP Committee and a
longtime advocate of tobacco control efforts, said in a statement: "Decades of
irresponsible delay are finally over. Today’s landmark vote will save
millions of children from a lifetime of addiction and premature death. Public health
experts overwhelmingly agree that enactment of this legislation is the most
important action Congress can take to reduce youth smoking.”
Kennedy did not vote on the measure Thursday because he is ill with a brain
tumor and absent from the Senate.