The U.S. Congress is poised to pass a bill that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco. But experts are divided on whether the bill will have significant impact on tobacco use, a habit that kills some 436,000 Americans a year — nearly one in five deaths annually.
Identical bills in the House of Representatives and the Senate would grant the FDA the same authority over tobacco that it has over drugs, medical devices and many foods. The bill would allow the agency, which has come under fire in recent years for its monitoring of the drug industry, to regulate the levels of tar, nicotine and other harmful ingredients in cigarettes and smoke. That smoke contains some 4,000 chemicals, more than 40 of which are known to cause cancer.
This would be the biggest boon for Big Tobacco since Joe Camel. Let’s pray it never happens.1126