WASHINGTON (CN) – Congress passed a bill Friday that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco, largely in response to failed efforts to restrict the marketing of tobacco to adolecents. “Every day about a thousand young people under the age of 18 become regular smokers,” said President Barack Obama, promising to sign the bill promptly.
“I look forward to signing it,” said Obama, adding that the bill has “been a long time coming.”
The legislation itself points to the problem it means to regulate. “Virtually all new users of tobacco products are under the minimum legal age to purchase such products,” says the bill.
The legislation would ban candy-flavored and fruit-flavored cigarettes, limits advertising to adolecents, and prohibits tobacco products from being sold in vending machines.
If the act becomes law, it would give the Food and Drug Administration broad power to alter cigarette content, and all new tobacco products would need FDA approval.
But the FDA would not be able to ban tobacco products from the market.
Members of Congress hailed the bill, not just as a protection of adolecents, but also as a protection of the health of the broader society.
“Tobacco use is the foremost preventable cause of premature death in America,” says the legislation. “It causes over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year, and approximately 8,600,000 Americans have chronic illnesses related to smoking.”