Senate Tackles FDA Regulation of Tobacco

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Senate Tackles FDA Regulation of Tobacco

WASHINGTON -- U.S. senators opened debate Tuesday on a bill that would grant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products, Reuters reported.

The bill, written by Democrats, would let the FDA oversee the packaging, marketing and manufacturing of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Debate of the bill could continue into next week, and Democrats said they have enough votes to approve legislation, but the margin could be slim, according to the report.

Tobacco company positions vary, with Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA, the largest cigarette maker in the U.S., supporting the bill and others—including Reynolds American Inc.'s R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Lorillard Inc.'s Lorillard Tobacco Co.—opposing it.

President Barack Obama supports the measure, as does FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the American Cancer Society, the report stated.

A similar proposal already passed the House. Differences between the two passed versions would have to be worked out by congressional negotiators before a final bill could be signed into law by Obama.

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