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Philip Morris Seeks Legislation

Three years after its last attempt to spur legislation that would have empowered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the marketing of cigarettes, Philip Morris Cos. Inc. is shopping around the contours of a bill that would, once again, let the agency limit the tobacco industry's reach. But in contrast to its last efforts, the company is having a hard time finding Congressional backers for its plan, according to The New York Times.

The company's latest endeavor comes just one year after winning a Supreme Court ruling that the FDA does not have the authority to regulate cigarettes as a drug or a medical device. Yet the company is still hoping lawmakers will enable the agency to limit tobacco marketing, curb youth smoking and require more warning labels on cigarette packs, the report said.

In recent months, Philip Morris says it has met with Congressional leaders from both parties, as well as most of the members of the Senate and House committees that oversee the FDA, searching for a champion for its regulatory agenda. What it has found, however, is little interest, unlike three years ago when national tobacco regulation dominated news headlines and legislative interest.

Philip Morris believes that regulation will actually make it easier to do business, setting a single standard on issues like labeling instead of a different one for every state, the report said. With the FDA's blessing, cigarette companies could also start selling "safer cigarettes," which contain fewer carcinogens, without worrying that the agency would punish them for making unapproved health claims.

Lawmakers may also be wary of taking up an issue that the rest of the industry is likely to rebuff. Other companies are not joining Philip Morris's legislative campaign, in part because its brands are so dominant that they would probably be less affected by restrictions on advertising, the report said.
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