Senators introduce bill to limit tobacco marketing aimed at youths

Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Representatives Henry A. Waxman (R-CA) and Tom Davis (R-VA) have introduced a bill that would allow the federal government to further regulate the tobacco industry by cracking down on marketing aimed at young people.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, S. 635, would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products in an effort to keep tobacco manufacturers from enticing young people to smoke and to assist current smokers in quitting.

“Congress cannot in good conscience allow the federal agency most responsible for protecting the public health to remain powerless to deal with the enormous risks of tobacco, the most deadly of all consumer products,” Kennedy said in a statement.

“Health experts believe this legislation is the most important action Congress could take to protect children from this deadly addiction,” he said.

The legislation would give the FDA the legal authority it needs (1) to prevent tobacco advertising that targets children; (2) to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors; (3) to help smokers overcome their addiction; (4) to identify and reduce the toxic constituents of tobacco products and tobacco smoke for those who continue to be exposed to them; (5) to regulate claims about reduced risk tobacco products; and (6) to prevent the tobacco industry from misleading the public about the dangers of smoking.

Its supporters, including the New York-based Altria Group Inc. and its domestic-tobacco company Philip Morris USA, say that there is a good chance the bill will pass in part because it is supported by the Democratic leadership in Congress and has some bipartisan support.

Reportedly, several Wall Street analysts said the big losers could be smaller tobacco companies that offer bargain cigarettes because they might have to raise prices to meet the new standards.

Kennedy, who is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will convene a hearing on the legislation Feb. 27.

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