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Senate Weighs Giving FDA Tobacco Authority

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The U.S. Senate was poised to vote Thursday on a measure that would give the Food and Drug Administration broad authority over the manufacture, sale and advertising of tobacco products.

The House has approved a similar measure and such a pact has the support of President Barack Obama, the Associated Press reported. His predecessor, George W. Bush, opposed prior bills aimed at establishing FDA regulation of tobacco.

Federal legislators have been trying for more than a decade to give the FDA such authority. The U.S. Supreme Court, in 2000, ruled 5-4 that the agency did not have such powers under current law, the AP said.

The latest measure would allow the FDA to set levels for nicotine and other cigarette ingredients, and would require tobacco makers to list the contents of their products. It also would require the agency to approve any new products in much the same way that it now does with drugs and medical devices. The FDA also would have the authority to require stronger warnings on cigarette packaging.

New tobacco company fees would finance the FDA operation, the AP said.