Auto industry? Check.
Housing market? Check.
Health care? Getting there.
Tobacco? Why the hell not?
The Senate took a step Tuesday toward giving the government some controls over the tobacco industry, bolstering the chances that a long-sought goal of anti-smoking advocates will finally be realized.
The 84-11 Senate vote to consider the bill came a month after the House overwhelmingly passed a similar measure giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Sixty votes were needed to advance the legislation, and the success in reaching that threshold increase the likelihood that the Senate will move to a final vote by the end of the week. If the House concurs with the Senate measure, it would go to President Barack Obama, who is ready to sign it into law.
The Senate vote came on a day when Obama is to meet Senate Democratic leaders on courses they may take to bring down the runaway costs of health care.
Supporters of the FDA legislation, such as the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association, say controls over tobacco products would be a good place to start: they say tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans every year, resulting in $96 billion in health care costs.
Under the measure, the FDA could restrict tobacco marketing, specifically to young people; order changes to the ingredients in tobacco products; and require more prominent health warnings. It would ban remaining tobacco-brand sponsorships of sports and entertainment events and restrict vending machines to adult-only facilities. It would bar the use of “reduced harm” descriptions such as “light,” “mild” or “low.”
It would impose a fee on cigarette manufacturers to pay for FDA regulation.
The FDA would not have the authority to ban cigarettes and other tobacco products.
“The FDA would not have the authority to ban cigarettes and other tobacco products.” Well, of course not, silly. They need the taxes to pay for S-CHIP, Obamacare, etc., etc., etc.
I particularly like this detail: “Under the measure, the FDA could…order changes to the ingredients in tobacco products.”
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