The US Senate passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act last week on June 11. This bill is historic, being the most sweeping anti-tobacco measure so far and includes the following:
- Giving the US Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate sale, production and marketing of tobacco products.
- Banning of claims by tobacco manufacturers that their products present fewer health risks than their competitors.
- Banning of using the words “light,” “ultra-light” “low” tar or “mild” or other terms that might mislead consumers to think that some tobacco products are less harmful than others.
- Banning of candy and fruit flavoring in tobacco products.
- Regulation of “smokeless” tobacco products, including tobacco snuff.
- Requirement of tobacco manufacturers to disclose the ingredients in their products.
- Other changes in product labelling and packaging, including the display of graphic warnings that would cover at least half of the pack.
The banning of misleading words is especially a major breakthrough since more than half of tobacco products currently on the market carry the label “light” or ultra-light.”
According to Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The new tobacco regulations will take effect at different time scales in different phases. Some measures are effective immediately (e.g. lesser health risk claims), some will take a few months (flavoring), while others may take longer (e.g. labelling and packaging).
It is not clear whether the regulations also cover e-cigarettes which are basically nicotine but not tobacco products.
The legislators who are instrumental in pushing the bill are Senators Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The bill is a big blow to the tobacco industry and a big victory for anti-tobacco advocacy groups. Here is what major health groups have to say about the bill:
American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown
Paul G. Billings Vice President for Policy and Advocacy of the American Lung Association
“Today marks an historic culmination of a more than 20 year journey to provide the FDA urgently needed regulatory control over the tobacco industryThis long overdue legislation will protect kids and reduce the terrible human and financial burden caused by tobacco use in this country.”
Photo credit: stock.xchng