WASHINGTON--House Republican leaders delayed introducing the tobacco legislation they promised after the Senate defeated a comprehensive anti-smoking bill in June. This allowed House members the opportunity during Congress August recess to hear what their constituents thought about the issues of smoking, raising tobacco taxes, and strengthening the federal governments role in regulating the tobacco industry.
An aide to Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), leader of the task force drafting the legislation, said the delay resulted, in part, from the disruption of congressional activities following the slaying of two police officers by a gunman who burst into the Capitol on July 24 and from an apparent lack of enthusiasm for dealing with such a major bill before Congress adjourns in October to campaign for the November elections.
"What the Congresswoman is hearing is that there is not a lot of appetite in Congress right now to take up a big tobacco bill," the aide said. "The Congresswoman does feel this is important legislation, and we should take it up this fall, but it will depend on what members hear back home."
According to a brief outline of the bills goals, released by the House leadership, it would produce an "unprecedented legislative effort to reduce both teenage smoking and drug use;" permit no special protection to the tobacco industry against lawsuits; provide the FDA new authority to regulate tobacco products; grant the Federal Trade Commission enhanced authority to police tobacco advertising to teens; launch a national advertising campaign to prevent teen smoking and drug use; create a model law that states could enact to penalize those who sell tobacco to minors; and allow states to keep all proceeds from lawsuits they win against the tobacco companies.