House Plans Vote on FDA Tobacco Bill

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House Plans Vote on FDA Tobacco Bill

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote today on landmark legislation that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products, according to a report by The New York Times, citing an aide to Representative Henry Waxman, the bill's sponsor.

The bill is almost identical to one that passed the House July 2008, in a 326 to 102 vote, the report stated. It also had 60 sponsors in the Senate last year, including then Sen. Barack Obama, but did not come up for a vote, and had received veto threats from the Bush administration, the newspaper reported.

This year, the Senate is expected to be the political battleground for the legislation, as Republican Richard Burr, of North Carolina, has threatened to hold a filibuster, and introduced his own bill, putting authority under the Health and Human Services agency, according to the Times.

Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for Waxman, told the Times House majority leader Steny Hoyer approved putting the tobacco legislation on the House calendar Wednesday, so it could pass before the spring recess.

The legislation would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco products and ingredients based on scientific and health findings, but would not allow a complete ban of tobacco products, or permit the complete removal of nicotine, the report stated.

In addition, current regulations over tobacco advertising and marketing would be toughened, and warning labels on packs of cigarettes would be required to be larger and more graphic, the Times reported.