Senate Expected to Pick Up FDA Tobacco Bill

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Senate Expected to Pick Up FDA Tobacco Bill

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon have the authority to regulate tobacco products, according to some members of Congress, who expected the Senate to take up such legislation this week, a report by stated.

The House overwhelmingly approved similar legislation earlier this month, which would give the FDA authority over the way tobacco products are made, advertised and sold.

Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts planned to introduce legislation when Congress returned yesterday from a two-week recess, the report stated. The bill is expected to have at least 60 co-sponsors, and Kennedy has said he expects his measure to be approved "expeditiously" by the Senate, according to the report.

Despite the anticipated widespread support, not all members of Congress are on board. One potential opponent is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"Senator McConnell's top priority is to look out for the best interests of the thousands of Kentucky farm families who rely on tobacco to make a living," spokesman Robert Steurer told the paper, adding McConnell's chief concern is that the new regulatory authority could "prevent FDA from meeting its core mission" of ensuring the safety of food and pharmaceutical products.

The bill as passed in the House would not allow the agency to ban tobacco or regulate tobacco farmers, but it does permit the FDA to put additional restrictions on tobacco advertising and marketing, along with requiring larger and more graphic warnings on cigarette packs and regulate the disclosure of ingredients in tobacco products.

The costs of the regulation would be covered by user fees imposed on tobacco manufacturers and importers, the report stated.

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