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U.S. House Passes Bill Giving FDA Control Over Tobacco

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Legislation that would subject the tobacco industry to regulation by U.S. health authorities was passed Wednesday by the House in a 326-102 vote.

Under the bill, the Food and Drug Administration would have the power to regulate tobacco products. The FDA couldn't ban tobacco or nicotine, but it could order the reduction or elimination of cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco smoke, the Associated Press reported.

In addition, the bill would: further tighten restrictions on tobacco advertising; impose new penalties for selling to minors; prohibit candy-flavored cigarettes and cigars; and give the FDA authority to ban menthol, the most common type of flavoring.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act appears to have enough support to pass this year, but it's unclear whether the Senate will have time to act, the AP reported. The White House issued a veto threat Wednesday.

A potential sticking point as the Senate considers the measure is its treatment of menthol, a favorite choice among black smokers. The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network has said it won't support the bill unless it included an outright ban on menthol. But given that menthol represents more than 25 percent of cigarettes sold, tobacco makers' support for the bill could be in jeopardy if the legislation included a menthol ban, the AP said.

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