WASHINGTONSeveral House and Senate members have
introduced bipartisan bills that would authorize the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products. The measures are in response
to a Supreme Court decision that rejected the FDA’s claim to such authority
and held that "Congress has clearly precluded the FDA from asserting
jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products."
The decision stemmed from a 1996 effort by the FDA to restrict
the sale and marketing of tobacco products to children and to regulate the
nicotine content of tobacco products. A federal appeals court upheld the
tobacco industry’s challenge to the regulations, and the industry ultimately
prevailed before the Supreme Court.
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Greg Ganske, MD (R-Iowa),
introduced legislation backed by more than 50 other representatives.
"No one can deny that the overwhelming majority of
evidence shows smoking is the leading cause of cancer and heart diseasethe
top two causes of death in the United States," Rep. Ganske said.
"Unless Congress acts, the tobacco industry will once again be unregulated
and free to manufacture its products without regard to public health and
In the Senate, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and
Bob Graham (D-Fla) introduced a similar measure. Provisions in the Senate bill
Declare nicotine a drug and tobacco products drug
Allow the FDA to use a "public health"
standard in its review and regulation of tobacco products.
Permit age identification checks by codifying the FDA’s
1996 regulations. n Allow restrictions to limit youth access such as
requiring that tobacco products be kept behind store counters and banning
cigarette vending machines.
Include some advertising limits, such as outdoor
advertisements within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.
Enact other provisions of the original FDA regulations
aimed at reducing teen access to tobacco.