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Von Eschenbach cool on tobacco regulation

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

Despite bipartisan support in Congress for giving FDA authority to regulate marketing and manufacturing tobacco products to curb youth smoking, agency Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach says government regulation could actually prompt smokers to accelerate their habits. In a March 8 interview with the Associated Press, von Eschenbach said reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes in an attempt to make cigarettes less likely to cause health problems could cause smokers to change their usage in order to continue inhaling their current levels of the addictive drug. Although Congress gave FDA authority over tobacco products in 1996, the Supreme Court in 2000 ruled that because the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act allows FDA to regulate products deemed unsafe for obtaining therapeutic benefit, tobacco falls outside of FDCA's regulatory scheme if it cannot be used safely for any therapeutic purpose. However, since then multiple bills have been introduced in Congress to give FDA the authority, most recently in the current session by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John Cornyn, R-Texas (S. 625) and by Rep. Harry Waxman, D-Calif., (H.R. 1108) (1"The Tan Sheet," Feb, 26, 2007, In Brief)...

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