Kennedy Pushes FDA Powers

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Kennedy Pushes FDA Powers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Longtime tobacco adversary Sen. Edward Kennedy has penned a bill that would empower the Food and Drug Administration to oversee the tobacco industry, including the marketing of cigarettes.

Facing an uphill battle in Congress, the Massachusetts Democrat last month introduced a bipartisan bill backed by Ohio GOP Sen. Michael DeWine that would give the agency oversight powers it currently lacks to govern the manufacture and marketing of cigarettes, The New York Times reported.

Interestingly, Phillip Morris, the world's largest cigarette maker, has broken ranks to endorse FDA authority of tobacco. Industry analysts have attributed Philip Morris' position to conjecture that FDA authority would further reduce legitimacy of second-tier tobacco manufacturers, thereby further limiting the playing field of cigarette producers. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it would help stabilize volatility that has long plagued tobacco companies in the Wall Street community.

"We think that the whole industry would benefit from having clear rules established," said Philip Morris associated general counsel Mark Berhind told The Times.

"We're not interested in giving FDA authority to make up new advertising laws, though we think they should have authority over Congressionally codified master settlement rules," he said referring to the 1998 settlement.