Friday, June 12, 2009

FDA regulation of tobacco is about to become law

"For the first time since Americans began smoking, the federal government is about to control how tobacco products are made, marketed and sold in the United States," James R. Carroll reports for The Courier-Journal on the Senate's 79-17 vote to have the Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco. The House has passed a similar bill and is expected to approve the Senate version, and President Obama says he will sign it.

Senators from tobacco states voted against the bill. North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan was the only Democrat to vote against it, reports Barbara Barrett of McClatchy Newspapers, noting, "North Carolina tobacco interests said new regulation would cost jobs, hurt farmers, and maintain the market dominance of tobacco giant Philip Morris of Virginia, maker of Marlboros." (Read more) Philip Morris supported the bill.

Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky said the bill "is nothing more than an attempt to eliminate our national tobacco industry." The Kentcky-based Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association "will wait to see how the regulations are written, but president Roger Quarles said the multi-state group wasn't opposed to FDA regulation -- as long as it isn't used as a guise for prohibition," Carroll reports for the Louisville newspaper.

Spencer County, Ky., tobacco farmer Scott Travis "said he expects additional federal requirements to reduce yields and make the product less profitable," Carroll writes, quoting him: "A lot of the ways that we have always raised tobacco will probably be changed to meet the new demands of the FDA regulations. … If that's what we have to do to raise tobacco to stay in business, well that's just what we'll have to do, I guess." University of Kentucky tobacco economist Will Snell said the impact of regulation "will be lessened by the reality that about 80 percent of U.S.-grown burley is consumed overseas," Carroll writes. (Read more)

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