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House panel approves tobacco regulation bill

[JURIST] The US House Energy and Commerce Committee [official website] Wednesday voted 38-12 to approve the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act [HR 1108 text and amendment, PDF; JURIST report], a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory power over tobacco products. Supporters say the bill will help to better inform the public of the risks of smoking and make cigarettes safer, but opponents say it might give the public a false sense of security about smoking and that the FDA might not be able to handle the burden of regulation. The bill now goes to the House floor for consideration. Reuters has more.

The US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved a similar bill [JURIST report] in August 2007. Shortly before that, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan said that the FDA lacked the resources [JURIST report] to handle tobacco regulation. The FDA first began to regulate the tobacco industry in 1996, but in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled in FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. [text] that Congress had not provided the FDA with the authority to regulate tobacco products.

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