President Barack Obama is set to sign into law an anti-smoking bill that will give the Food and Drug Administration unprecedented authority to regulate tobacco. Obama is scheduled to sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act during an event today in the Rose Garden. The law allows the FDA to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings and block labels such “low tar” and “light.” Tobacco companies also will be required to cover their cartons with large graphic warnings.The law won’t let the FDA ban nicotine or tobacco outright, but the agency will be able to regulate what goes into tobacco products, make public the ingredients and prohibit marketing campaigns, especially those geared toward children.
Anti-smoking advocates looked forward to the bill after years of attempts to control an industry so fundamental to the U.S. that carved tobacco leaves adorn some parts of the Capitol.
Opponents from tobacco-growing states like top-producing North Carolina argued that the FDA has proved through a series of food safety failures that it’s not up to the job. They also said that instead of unrealistically trying to get smokers to quit or to prevent others from starting, lawmakers should ensure that people have other options, like smokeless tobacco.
As president, George W. Bush opposed the legislation and threatened a veto after it passed the House last year. The Obama administration, by contrast, issued a statement declaring strong support for the measure.
Obama has spoken publicly of his own struggles to quit cigarettes.