CONGRESS GRANTS FDA AUTHORITY TO REGULATE TOBACCO PRODUCTS, PROTECT KIDS FROM SMOKING IMPACTS June 16, 2009 (Washington D.C.) The House and Senate have passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, designed to protect children and teens from the harmful effects of smoking. The bill grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the advertising, marketing and manufacturing of tobacco products to protect public health. San Diego Congressional representatives Brian Bilbray, Susan Davis and Bob Filner voted for the landmark measure, while Congressmen Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voted against it. Issa, the only San Diego representative to take tobacco industry money during the last election, received a $1,000 campaign contribution in 2008.
"Tobacco remains the number-one cause of preventable death in America,” Rep. Filner (D-San Diego) stated in a press release. “Nearly half a million Americans die from tobacco each year – with another 8.6 million suffering chronic illnesses. This is absolutely a health crisis. By monitoring and regulating the sale and advertising of tobacco products, we can better protect our children and families.” The legislation allows the FDA to develop restrictions on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. The bill also requires tobacco companies to disclose the ingredients in each product and gives the FDA the power to demand changes to those ingredients, such as banning flavors. The bill requires more specific health warnings and reinstates the 1996 rule restricting the marketing of tobacco products to youth. “Every day, more than 3,500 young people try a cigarette for the first time while another 1,000 become regular, daily smokers,” Filner noted. “About one third of these kids will die prematurely as a result. This bill gives the FDA the necessary power to prevent tobacco sales to kids and educate our youth about the very serious risks of these products.” The bipartisan bill, which now goes to President Barack Obama’s desk for signature, is supported by more than 1,000 organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Phillip Morris USA, the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company as well as six small tobacco product manufacturers have also come out in support of the legislation. The President, who has waged his own battle to quit smoking, has stated that he will sign the bill into law.