|Issue of the Day: Congress Acts to Regulate Tobacco Industry|
Published Monday, June 15th, 2009
Congress has successfully — after a decade of political wrangling — passed a bill that gives the FDA wide powers to regulate the tobacco industry’s manufacture, marketing and selling of cigarettes. This bill overcame the Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that said that the agency did not have the right to regulate the industry on its own. The bill highlights: bars the use of terms like “lite” and “low tar”, bans all flavorings except menthol, sets new restrictions on advertising, requires larger warning labels, allows the FDA to lower the level of nicotine but not to zero, and bans sponsorship of sporting events or entertainment events. This bill neither raise taxes on cigarettes nor bans them. Also, this year 16 states are considering raising cigarette taxes to cover the near $47.4 billion shortfall that will exist at the end of FY2009.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking attributes to about 400,000 deaths per year in the US; nearly 25% of the US adult population smokes. The number of youth and adult smokers has dropped over the last several decades, yet it has leveled off in recent years. Updated information on the survival rate from cancer has risen slowly yet steadily to top 67.5% for whites and 57.5% for blacks. Studies suggest that reasons for the gap range from biological differences to sociological factors.