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Senate Approves Bill Leaving FDA Without Tobacco-Regulating Authority

NEW YORK -- On Monday, the Senate passed the American Jobs Creation Act (H.R. 4520), a $136 billion corporate tax package that cuts taxes for many businesses, closes tax loopholes and brings U.S. exporters in line with international trade rules, reported the Associated Press.

The Senate followed the House in approving a conference agreement on the Foreign Sales Corp./Extraterritorial Income Act (FSC/ETI) that fails to provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with any authority to regulate tobacco products.

"The failure to pass this legislation with all its benefits to consumers, public health and all legitimate participants in the tobacco industry is a bitter disappointment and a significant step backwards in the effort to reduce the harm associated with tobacco," said Mike Szymanczyk, chairman and CEO for Philip Morris USA.

The ruling was considered a victory for the convenience store industry, however.

"This victory was made possible by the hundreds of NACS (National Association of Convenience Store) members who proactively protected their businesses by contacting their members of Congress," said Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president of government relations, on the organization's Web site. "Without member support, we would not have been able to accomplish this."

In July, the Senate passed by an overwhelming majority of 78-15 an amendment to the FSC/ETI bill that included bipartisan legislation that would have provided the FDA with the power to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products. Sunday, the Senate reiterated its strong support for FDA regulation of tobacco products by again passing identical freestanding FDA legislation.

The Senate legislation, which was supported by leading public health groups, contained provisions including:

* Larger, more emphatic health warnings on all cigarette packs and advertisements;

* Ban on the sale of candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products;

* Full disclosure of all ingredients added to tobacco products;

* Authority for the FDA to regulate, or ban, terms such as "light" and "low tar."

* Authority for the FDA to mandate changes in the design of tobacco products to protect the public health, including authority to remove harmful ingredients and smoke constituents;

* Authority for the FDA to do more to prevent minors from using tobacco products; and

* Authority to establish standards for products that could potentially reduce the harm associated with smoking and define the appropriate way to communicate about these products.
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