Tobacco Bill Might not See Light until 2009

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Tobacco Bill Might not See Light until 2009

WASHINGTON -- Due to an upcoming busy Senate calendar and a possible veto, the bipartisan support for the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate tobacco might be put on hold until next year, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

If the bill became a law, it would have a dramatic effect on publicly traded companies such as Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), Lorillard Inc. (LO) and Altria Group Inc. (MO), the report stated.

Provisions in the bill would give the FDA limited authority to monitor smoking products and ban flavored cigarettes, with an exemption for menthol-flavored cigarettes. Dow Jones Newswires reported if passed, the legislation could impose controls on advertising that restrict companies to plain, black and white "tombstone" advertisements and stop the use of the terms “low tar" and "mild."

While the bill passed in the House July 30, Dow Jones Newswires reported Republican Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina repeatedly threatened to veto the bill if it comes up on the Senate floor in September, when members return from their summer recess for a three-week work period. If the bill was filibustered, it would likely not return to the calendar until next year, according to the report.

However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it is "possible" that he could bring up the bill during the September session.