WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama signed into law Monday legislation that hands regulation of tobacco products, which kill 400,000 Americans a year, to the Food and Drug Administration and hampers the sale of tobacco to minors. “Almost 90 percent of all smokers began at or before their 18th birthday,” Obama said before signing the bill. “I was one of these teenagers.”
“Each day, 1,000 young people under the age of 18 become new, regular, daily smokers,” he said. “Kids today don’t just start smoking for no reason. They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry.”
To minimize sales to juveniles, candy-flavored cigarettes will be banned by October, and by April, tobacco manufacturers will not be allowed to use their names or logos when sponsoring sporting events or giving away clothing. And they won’t be allowed to give away free cigarette samples.
“It will also ban tobacco advertising within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds.” Obama said.
Among other major changes, the FDA will have authority to set standards on tobacco products to protect public health, and will have the power to regulate marketing.
By next January, tobacco manufacturers will have to provide the FDA with lists of the ingredients in their products.
New warning labels will cover half the front and back of tobacco packages and warning labels will be strengthened.
“More than 400,000 Americans now die of tobacco-related illnesses each year, making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States,” he said. “More than 8 million Americans suffer from at least one serious illness caused by smoking. And these health problems cost us all more than $100 billion a year.”
But Obama said the legislation will not stop in the United States.
“Today, tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death not just in America, but also in the world. If current trends continue, 1 billion people will die from tobacco-related illnesses this century,” he said. “And so the United States will continue to work with the World Health Organization and other nations to fight this epidemic on a global basis.”