June 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET
5 years ago

Senate passes bill increasing FDA power to regulate tobacco

 A bill that increases the power of the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products cleared the Senate on Thursday.
A bill that increases the power of the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products cleared the Senate on Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A bill that increases the power of the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products cleared the Senate on Thursday.

The Senate voted 79-17 for the measure, which is similar to a bill already passed by the House of Representatives.

An aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the chamber will vote Friday on accepting the Senate bill, which would send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Most Senate opposition came from tobacco-producing states including Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. In a break from
tradition, the two senators from Virginia - another tobacco state - supported the measure, indicating a moderate shift in the state's politics.


The tobacco bill would allow the FDA to ban some tobacco products, limit the amount of nicotine in tobacco products and enlarge warning labels.

A White House statement quoted Obama as calling the measure historic for "giving the scientists and medical experts at the FDA the power to take sensible steps that will reduce tobacco's harmful effects and prevent tobacco companies from marketing their products to children."

The statement said Obama looks forward to signing the bill.

– CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this story


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Steve, Columbia SC

    Seems our Congress is getting reaaaaaaaaaaaal good at giving more power to the government now that the demoncrats control Congress and the White House.

    June 11, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  2. Smoker

    First of all, what ever happend to the "freedom" to choose for yourself what you deem to be good or bad. Every person here who's saying they do not smoke, I'm sure engages in some activity that would be considered "risky" buy others. Just remember where you stood on the issue of government telling the free people of this nation what's best for them – when the federal government decides it is knows what's best for you – like riding motorcycles or gambling in the casinos. Keep this in mind, "Freedom lost anywhere is freedom lost everywhere".

    June 11, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Susan

    I'm tired of everyone saying- its my choice, it doesn't affect anyone but me. Try that line on a child that cannot go into a restaurant because second hand smoke triggers an allergic response. If it was just you that was being slowly killed- I'd say go for it. But, it is those around you as well that are affected. Children that are slowly being poisoned because their parents don't care enough to quit. Smoking around your child should be reason for immediate removal of the child from your home.

    June 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Good. Now all they have to do is take cigarette and cigar smoking from TV shows and movies.

    June 11, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. Beverly in NC

    This is wonderful news and has been a long time coming. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug, worse than many controlled-substance drugs requiring a strict prescription from your doctor.

    Intentionally addicting people to a known deadly product needs to stop and this is a great first step to ending the huge healthcare problems surrounding tobacco product use.

    NC is becoming a non-tobacco state as RJR and Philip Morris are closing plants. We just passed a "no-smoking" ban statewide for all public places. Our Senator Burr fought it since he is totally funded by tobacco money and uses chewing tobacco himself.

    When he loses his healthcare when he loses his Senate seat in 2010, I wonder if RJR will be paying him still if he develops cancer from their products? I bet a government-based healthcare option will look pretty good to Burr then.

    So glad the FDA now can exercise more control over these killer products.

    June 11, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  6. JS007

    Why would anyone be against this? Tobacco companies are willingly and knowingly killing people. When a drug kills someone it's pulled off the shelves. What the government should be doing is banning certain ingredients such as ammonia that make cigarettes deadly (and more addictive than they would be otherwise).

    I believe in freedom, but someone's choice to smoke and ruin their health affects all of us who have to pay for that person's health care. Further, little children are not able to say "no" to second-hand smoke – an experience I have known first hand.

    June 11, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. RGR

    Mark from Fl – I guess the folks from Texas are a little smarter than the folks from Florida – Texas has a balance budget I guess we should learn a little bit from them. You are entitle to your opinion I guess you do see what is wrong with the government today! and you don't see that this problem has been started from the last 40 years, but never like this in just a few months everything has turn upside down.

    June 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  8. JoeBrown

    It's about time... I know of no other legal product which is intentionally addictive and kills people either through cancer(s) or heard disease. Only in America could such insanity make sense...

    June 11, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  9. HUGO

    Great, more government control to save us from ourselves or at least establishing an increased protection to us at a higher tax rate. Last I heard the earth is way over populated and our limited resources and environment are progressively getting worse, at least that is what I saw on CNN according to the Climate Czar's (Al Gore) last Global Warming report. What if our government handed out free Big Mac's, alcohol, cigarettes, guns and drugs instead of spending our tax dollars saving the masses from themselves? We have now completely interrupted the evolutionary process of the animal known as "Man". Of course this is only true if you believe in evolution, I wonder if Jesus smoked since it is a plant that was put on this earth by our father?

    I bet Obama gets tax free cigs!

    June 11, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Smoker

    "I believe in freedom, but someone's choice to smoke and ruin their health affects all of us who have to pay for that person's health care."

    No one pays for my healthcare but me first of all. Secondly, again this is just another way to control the actions of other people and using financial coast as an excuse. Our tax dollars are spent on many things that are agreeable to everyone in the country. "Abortion" for one example. So don't use that tired excuse about it costing everyone.

    You are given the choice to go where you please. If someone decides to smoke where you are, then leave. Second-hand smoke deals with "parts-per billion". That means you would need to be in a relative confined space to inhale enough smoke to be damaging to you. Where is the voice of reason on this subject. Surely you can see that it is a matter of choice and the federal government does not have the right to decide what is best of the individual. As I said, when they turn to something you are doing, then who will stand for your right to continue it.

    June 11, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  11. Smoker

    Listen, this is just one step closer for the government to control your healthcare. Mark my word, soon after the this "socialized" healthcare is shoved down the american people's throat, they will create a "HealthCare Czar". To tell you how much fat you can eat, i.e. Mcdonalds, how often you need to excersise and etc. And they will use the excuse of keeping the socialized healthcare cost down to do it. Then what will you have to say?

    June 11, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  12. Penn Voter

    As our economy is going up in smoke, we are wasting time talking about smoking?

    June 11, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. fedup

    Leave the tobacco industry alone, leave smokers alone.
    If you don't like smokers then don't smoke.
    I don't want the nicotine habit and I don't like the smell so I don't smoke.
    Anyone who started smoking after the FDA started putting warning labels on the cigarette packages is knowingly taking a risk just like someone that enjoys skydiving or any other risky behavior. It should not be up to the government to decide these things. If you don't want to smell smoke and you don't want your precious children exposed to smoke don't go where people are smoking. That's your choice.

    June 11, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Lori reminds the GOP that foreclosures & job losses are down & the Dems hold a 19pt. favorable advantage over the GOP!!!

    Who logically in their right mind, defends the tobacco industry and smoking? Smoking? We're trying to become a healthier nation. What's the worst that could come out of this? Adults & teens stop smoking, smokers with lung cancer don't burden the health care system, smokers don't get sick, we reduce pollution, we reduce the number of people smoking, etc. Conservatives should be on board. They claim that the President is hurting 'future generations' (which is nonsense) but then many object to this measure as a 'takeover' by Obama. If you cared about future generations you would care about their health first.

    June 11, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  15. Robin in Tampa, FL

    It's good to see a bill pass with such wide bipartisan support for once without the usual grandstanding by Democrats and Republicans.

    June 11, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  16. Eric from MI

    Wow being a smoker myself I would just like to say this sucks, you tax smokers to the point where we cant afford to smoke then you pass bills saying we cant smoke in public places, you know what that's just fine, kill another industry (tobacco) cause more unemployment and make the mood of the general smoking public just that much worse, last time I checked I lived in the United States of America and my constitution says you cant deprive me of my pursuit of happiness, I am happy to be a smoker I enjoy a cigarette after the daily grind of work and I accept the fact that's it's not healthy for me and if it does one day kill me so be it that's my choice and my life not yours, if you or your children have a problem with second hand smoke in a resturant? then sit in non-smoking, you don't like it in a bar? that's just outright ridiculous people go to the bar to drink and many to smoke if you don't like it drink at home, besides your drinking yourself into oblivion is destroying your body just as much as my smoking. I am deeply sorry for those of you that have lost loved ones due to lung cancer or other smoking related illnesses I truly am but it doesn't give you or the government the right to tell me and other smokers that we cant smoke

    June 11, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  17. S Callahan

    Good! as much as I hate the Government develing into everything...I think the tobacco companies have certainly had enough time to 'make things right'...and failed.

    June 11, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. Peter E

    The only thing that needs to be regulated is freedom of information. There should be more information! And that goes not just for tobacco, but all merchandise and consumables. Each and every month another company is busted for false advertisement, deliberately witholding information about the dangers of their products. If people have enough information, all the other regulation is moot, and unnecessary. Capitalism would work if the only regulation would be the demand for full disclosure!

    June 11, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. Liberal and Proud of It dot com

    Tobacco companies are only one example of predatory capitalism.

    Their product is addictive and poisonous. It is more harmful to the health than heroin (about 20,000 deaths annually), marijuana (zero deaths annually), or alcohol (about 80,000 deaths annually). Tobacco company executives have deliberately cultivated tobacco to increase the level of nicotine, making cigarettes even more addictive.

    Wayne McLaren, the Marlboro Man, died of lung cancer when he was 51. His widow sued Marlboro. He was replaced as the Marlboro man by David McClean died of emphysema and cancer when he was 73.

    My father, rest his soul, fought lung fought lung cancer for ten years and went through several periods of remission. He smoked every day of those ten years. He had a cigarette on his last ride to the hospital. Medicare paid every penny of the tens of thousands of dollars for his treatments.

    June 11, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. Alan

    Folks folks folks - it's not about the "freedom to smoke." It's about taking away even a BUSINESS' right to choose to cater to smokers or not. I hear a lot of folks on here talking about not even being able to go to a restaurant without worrying about smoke bothering them or their kids. I agree. It shouldn't. But the OWNER of a restaurant should have the right to decide, in a FREE NATION, to cater to smokers or non-smokers.

    Requiring posting of signage indicating there is smoking going on inside would not restrict the freedom of the OWNER of the business.

    More freedom gone and, oddly enough, even the Repukicans are praising this if they're not smokers.

    Choke on it!

    June 11, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  21. Matt

    Harry- you said "You're what is wrong with America.. I consider myself a independent leaning liberal but when the government things its OK to tax a group of citizens because of a lifestyle choice is how we will slowly but surely erase everything the founders stood for… Why doesn't the government increase the taxes on McDonalds and candy because i assure you more people become sicker in their lives because of poor diet than they do because of smoking."

    Interesting argument, it becomes more of a philisophical debate about McDonalds and candy because they are only harming themselves. Cigarettes on the other hand hurt everyone around them, second hand smoke is a killer! If you want to eat yourself to a stroke then thats fine, but over eating isnt hurting anyone, where second hand smoke literally kills people! And they arent whats wrong with America and we arent anywhere near erasing what the Founders stood for! Read up on your founders and youll find out that we arent erasing anything of theres, i would figure as a "leaning liberal" you would have seen how much our rights were infringed upon during the bush Administration. Calm down!

    June 11, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. David

    This has been needed for a very long time. What many smokers who are trying to quit didn't understand, is that tobacco companies have been adding more and more nicotine to their cigarettes to keep them addicted.

    They add more nicotine over time....you get addicted to more nicotine, then they drop the nicotine level...now you have to buy/smoke more cigarettes to get your addicted nicotine fix. This cycle has continued for years.

    This is the primary reason why so many smokers can't break the addiction. So this bill will end all of that once and for all. Bush wouldn't this bill, because the tobacco industry is his financial backer.

    So you can smoke all you want, nobody is trying to stop you. But for those who want to quit...now they have a fighting chance.

    We finally have a president with a commitment to the American people. I do find it amazing how some people addicted to finding the negative in everything. Does that mindset really help you?

    June 11, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    @ donttreadonme, who said "Smoking pot kills your brain and ruins your ability reason. Explains many of the liberal comments we read on here everyday."

    So do alcohol and many of the perscription drugs out there that people either need to take or abuse. The former is nothing more than a societal panacaea without any proven medical value. The latter, however, does not exist in nature and is manufactured DESPITE the incidence rate of abuse. Pot grows naturally, has proven medical value and, just like the other two, has an incidence rate for abuse. I fail to see the distinction other than the fact that our drug of choice as a society, alcohol, has no medical value and far more severe consequences for not only those who abuse it but society, i.e., domestic abuse, drunk driving, etc. Ergo, pot isn't as bad as alcohol, just more demonized due to misperception. Modus ponens. Follow it.

    June 11, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. 2pacolypse Now

    Puuuhleeease! Spare me. Just more media fluff. People will pay $5 or even $10 a pack for that nicotine and the tobacco companies will get it to the people. There's no regulating that industry because like the big pharma companies they have too many congressmen on their payrolls and too many lobbyists working for them pushing their agendas.

    This is a nice story in fantasy land.

    June 11, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. Katrina Wogoman

    I am glad that they passed this bill, but agree that Alcohol is the lesser of two evils.

    I have one comment. I am a liberal, I do not smoke... anymore, and I have a grandmother and nephew who could get deathly ill if in the room with one of you smoking in public places. This has nothing at all to do with political parties and is a long time in the making. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, even children without a political affiliation. No one cares if you have the right to choose whether you kill yourself, but I have a right to care if you are putting the lives of my family in your hand. You share this planet with other people, why not have some consideration for them, eh?

    June 11, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
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