FDA Regulation of Tobacco

The Latest Load of Crap from this Congress


On the now infamous day of June 12th, 2009, our current Federal Congress finalized it’s law to give the FDA specific controls on tobacco products. This past Monday, June 22, Obama signed it. An anti-climax to be sure, as it was expected that the puppet of Pelosi and Reid would sign it. June 12th is infamous in the lack of any fight put up by the Republicans.

God forbid you see much about the details in the mainstream media. What you can find is quite disturbing. A cursory reading of this law and input from non-mainstream sources tells the following:

  1. It allows the FDA to regulate the manufacture, quality, packaging, advertising and sale of ALL tobacco products (including smokeless and loose) and related products (like rolling papers). Think about this carefully-

  1. Manufacture - how tobacco products are made or cannot be made

  2. Quality - what they can and cannot contain - not just tar and nicotine, but type of tobacco

  3. Packaging - How the packs/cartons look and what warnings are plastered all over them

  4. Advertising - how they are advertised and where or where not they can be advertised

  5. Sale - where they can and cannot be sold and by whom.

  1. It specifies the prohibition of any special flavors in cigarette products, except menthol. While it does not say, one would guess that clove cigarettes that contain any tobacco would be illegal.

  1. It allows the FDA to modify tobacco product quality - that is, (and as specifically targeted) it allows the FDA to mandate lower nicotine (but not ban it outright). Think about this:

  1. Lower nicotine cigarettes will encourage people to smoke more for the same effect - effectively making the act of smoking unhealthier.

  1. It sets up an expensive regulatory requirement upon all tobacco manufacturers and distributors with regard to new products. Think about this carefully-

  1. While all current tobacco products are granfathered into legality, this bill makes it very difficult for new brands to come to market. This means that any new small tobacco company wishing to put to market new and inexpensive smokes will be at an extreme disadvantage and, in fact, may be unable to do so.

  2. This bill may very well spell the end of any new tobacco companies - competition that would challenge the big, old ones on price and quality.

  1. It requires annual “user fees” be levied upon tobacco manufacturers AND distributors - user fees starting in the hundreds of millions (In 2010 - $ 235,000,000.00) and increasing each year. You can and SHOULD see this as an end-run around increasing the tobacco tax, as we smokers WILL pay these fees through increased prices.

  1. It allows the FDA to increase the legal age to purchase tobacco products - yes, it gives the FDA the power to raise the tobacco purchasing age higher than 18 years old across the US.

  1. And, of course, it gives the Pharmaceutical companies more help in pushing their “stop smoking” medications.

  1. It also allows the FDA to recommend to congress any further restrictions on tobacco products not allowed under this bill, including the complete prohibition of tobacco products.

This is a very sad law. Smokers are pretty much screwed in what they can smoke (at least legally), as those in the FDA who will now wield such power are Anti. Small, honest tobacco product manufacturers and distributors are being screwed with over-regulation, while the “Big Tobacco” companies, particularly Philip Morris, are being given guaranteed market share. Hell, even those genuinely concerned with people’s health - but not rabid Anti - hate this bill because, quintessentially, it has nothing to do with health and everything to do with hurting smokers BUT keeping them smokers - smoking product that is worse.

Please Click Here to see this law in the Library of Congress

Who’s Guilty

As a further sign of the death of the Republican Party, many, but not all Republicans, voted for this atrocious bill. Most Democrats voted for it. The below links detail the final votes in the US House and Senate. When your cigarettes suddenly become even more expensive and of crappier quality, when you find your choices greatly limited, when your purchase ability becomes very limited, look to these links to see whom to blame.

House of Representatives                Senate