FDA Regulation of Tobacco Expected to Pass Senate

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FDA Regulation of Tobacco Expected to Pass Senate

WASHINGTON -- While a Senate filibuster killed a similar measure in 1998, last week's filibuster attempt by Richard M. Burr, a Republican senator from North Carolina, didn't appear to work against a bill that would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the tobacco industry, The New York Times reported.

Burr, who flew home to North Carolina over weekend, conceded the landmark legislation was likely to pass this week. Burr acknowledged Thursday his effort would probably be blocked by a cloture vote that Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, scheduled for Monday evening. "Clearly the cloture motion will pass," Burr said in an interview with the newspaper.

Following that vote, a final vote on the measure could come Wednesday, Senate staff members told the Times.

The House already passed nearly identical legislation and President Barack Obama indicated he will sign the measure.

The legislation, known as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, would empower the FDA to measure and restrict the harmful chemicals in tobacco products; to review new tobacco products; ban the use of terms including "light" and "low tar" that may indicate reduced harm; require new, larger health warnings on cigarette packages; and tighten marketing and advertising restrictions, according to the report.

An alternative proposal filed by Burr and Kay Hagan, a Democrat from North Carolina, would set up a tobacco office in the Department of Health and Human Services to promote cessation and "reduced harm" products.

Burr told the Times his alternative had approximately 45 supporters in the Senate, but the stricter FDA bill had 58 co-sponsors.

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