Congress Denies FDA Power to Regulate Tobacco Products

March 1, 2005

This special “annual highlights” supplement to Oncology News International is acompilation of major advances in the management of lung cancer during 2004, asreported in ONI. Guest editor Dr. Roy Herbst discusses these advances in clinicalmanagement, with a focus on developments in adjuvant therapy for early disease,targeted therapy, and new chemotherapy findings.

WASHINGTON-Hope thatthe FDA would finally gain authorityto regulate tobacco products moreaggressively was dashed when a House-Senate conference committee droppedthe provision, which the Senate hadpassed as part of the 2004 Foreign SalesCorporation (FSC) tax cut bill. Thelegislation, which President Bushsigned into law on Oct. 24, did containa $10 billion buy-out package for tobaccofarmers, that will end a federaltobacco crop quota system institutedduring the Depression.The Senate passed the tobacco-regulationprovision in July by a 78 to 15vote, the first time either house hadvoted FDA regulatory power over thetobacco industry. The Senate's actionsent the expectations of public healthand anti-tobacco organizations soaring.A joint statement by four groupscalled the Senate vote "a giant steptoward a national tobacco policy thatcan significantly reduce the numberof children who become addicted totobacco products and the number ofpeople who die each year from tobacco-caused disease."However, the House version of theFSC bill did not include the tobaccoregulation powers, and in the conference committee to resolve differencesbetween the two measures, House negotiatorsled by Rep. Bill Thomas(R-Calif) refused to accept the Senateprovision in the bill.The tobacco industry lobbiedstrenuously to defeat the attempt toregulate its products. Coincidentally,the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kidsreleased its quarterly report on theindustry's contributions to federalcandidates 9 days after the conferencecommittee reported the final versionof the FSC bill. It showed totaldonations during the 2003-2004 electioncycles of $2.8 million.