Smoking is America’s number-one preventable cause of death and new federal legislation would put much stricter regulation on how cigarettes are made, sold and marketed. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin applauds Wednesday’s passage of a bill by a Senate committee that would give the federal government more power over cigarettes.
Harkin says, "Right now, the F-D-A, the Food and Drug Administration, for example, can regulate chewing gum but not cigarettes." Harkin says one key element of the bill would enable the F-D-A to ban candy-flavored cigarettes and other marketing tactics which he says lure young people into taking up the habit.
Harkin says the bill "can do more in terms of giving F-D-A authority in terms of how (tobacco companies) can advertise tobacco, how they sell tobacco products, where they place them, how they sell them, requiring stronger labeling on the tobacco products." He says the legislation would also give the F-D-A power to oversee menthol cigarettes, clove cigarettes and other smoking-related materials.
Harkin says the bill would help stop tobacco companies’ "deceptive marketing to kids" and provide Americans with the information they need to make informed choices. Harkin says: "It gives them the authority to determine and to publicize exactly what’s in tobacco products, what are all of the different things that go into tobacco products. It really does expand greatly the authority of the F-D-A. If we actually pass this bill, it’ll be the first time ever the F-D-A has had authority over tobacco."
The bill passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Harkin says the panel "sent a strong message to big tobacco that they can no longer engage in a systematic campaign of distortion and deceit to hook kids and hide the facts from the American people." A release from Harkin’s office says smoking is responsible for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. every year and costs 100-billion dollars in medical expenses and other indirect costs.