An alternative to FDA regulation of tobacco??

US Senators from North Carolina Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D) introduced on March 11th the Federal Tobacco Act of 2009, which would establish a separate entity called the Federal Tobacco Regulatory Agency to regulate the manufacture, marketing, sale and use of tobacco products, as opposed to US Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-California) HR 1256, which seeks to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory control over tobacco products.¬†¬†Under the Burr-Hagan proposal, the new Federal agency would enforce existing as well as new statutes and regulations governing tobacco products. The measure would prohibit the advertising of tobacco products in newspapers and magazines as well as ban the use of descriptors such as ‘light,’ ‘mild,’ ‘ultra-light,’ ‘medium,’ and ‘low.’ In a press release, Hagan said the “FDA is overburdened already, and lacks the capacity or the expertise to take on a large, complicated new industry. Rather than merely oppose FDA regulation, Senator Burr and I have offered an alternative proposal that protects the tobacco industry while also imposing stringent new restrictions that will prevent children from smoking. I will not stand idly by while the FDA is put in charge of such a critical industry to North Carolina.” Hagan said she will seek support for the measure from her colleagues in the Senate

Good idea or not? What do you think?


#1 steven on 03.13.09 at 6:31 AM

im all for it gotta say this is one of the best damn ideas anyone is congress has come up with in ages

#2 Big Tuna on 03.14.09 at 12:13 PM

Unbelievable idea! Any way we can help get this communicated? You know this blog is an unbelievable breathe of fresh air! Whoever thought of putting it together is to be commended. It is informative, current and I love to see the interaction. Can you that put this together help the alternative plan get legs?

#3 cig guy on 03.14.09 at 2:23 PM

Good idea! Is the issue really up for debate with a President that so far is loyal to his cronies?

#4 jredheadgirl on 03.14.09 at 3:33 PM

I like the idea of keeping tobacco out of the hands of the FDA, but I do not like the idea of banning the terms “full flavor”, “medium”, “mild”, “ultra light”, etc.. That makes me mad. I smoke ultra low tar cigarettes, and let me tell you, if and when I ever bum a smoke from someone who smokes heavier cigarettes, I definitely feel the difference. To tell smokers like me that there is no difference is a lie. I can fell the difference in my voice (I’m a singer), lung capacity (I’m an avid hiker and sometimes run 5 miles in a single stretch), and in my overall well being. The anti-smokers say : “Well, ultra light smokers just smoke more, therefore cancelling out any benefits of a low tar cigarette.” Right, that’s why I consistently smoke about 5 cigarettes a day (on average), which tend to be centered around dinner and a glass of wine. Heavier tar cigarettes ARE more toxic. Why would anyone want to distort that type of evidence?

#5 jredheadgirl on 03.14.09 at 3:42 PM

One more thing…The proper and moral thing to do would be to lift the ban on scientists who are trying to develop a safer cigarette. The all out prohibitionist approach is not only immoral (and costing lives), it is ineffective as people continue to smoke whilst science is being suppressed. We should pick up where the Banbury Report left off for starters. The antis will say that there is no safe cigarette and even go as far as to make the bold statement that risk reduction cannot and should not be pursued. To them I say: Is there a safe car? Well, no, but they certainly are a lot safer than they used to be. How is the issue of tobacco any different?

#6 RENEGADE on 03.15.09 at 1:33 AM


I like the way you think!

#7 jredheadgirl on 03.15.09 at 4:02 PM

Thanks Renegade!

#8 Adrian on 03.17.09 at 3:55 AM

Comments on a previous post about the recently released blueprint from an expert panel led us (not surprisingly) to the regulatory policy box, so with the agreement of both Chris and the webmaster, I have directed future comments against that posting to this one instead. For those of you who might like to follow how we got to where we did please go to:

#9 Bill Godshall on 03.17.09 at 2:39 PM

Please note that both the Buyer and Burr alternative bills are DOA. The only viable legislative solution for tobacco harm reduction is to amend Waxman’s bill with reasonable harm reduction provisions either on the House floor (if the Rules Cmte allows amendments to be offered), in Senate HELP Cmte, or on the Senate floor.

Due to health concerns, it appears unlikely that Kennedy will offer a FDA tobacco bill this session (and instead the Senate will likely act on Waxman’s bill after it passes the House), as Kennedy may or may not remain as Chair of the HELP Cmte, and may or may not finish the term as a Senator.

Although I strongly support the harm reduction provisions in the Buyer and Burr bills, both bills also contain many cigarette industry protection clauses that I (and virtually all other public health advocates) staunchly oppose.

The key is to convince Buyer and/or Burr to offer reasonable harm reduction amendment(s) (that don’t include cigarette industry protection clauses) to Waxman’s bill.

I urged Buyer to do so during the House E&C markup of Waxman’s bill, but Buyer choose to not do so.

But Burr has more negotiating leverage in the Senate than does Buyer in the House (as Waxman already has enough votes in the House).

#10 jredheadgirl on 03.18.09 at 3:16 PM

Hi Bill,

What do you mean by “industry protection clauses” specifically? Do you know what they are?

With all due respect, this is a Democratic Republic, not a dictatorship run by health officials. The more than 50 million smokers that reside in the U.S. deserve to have their say in this. It is a legal product that does indeed deserve to be made safer. I just don’t trust the competency of the FDA, or the motives of Mr Waxman (who is an all out prohibitionist).

There should be oversight from an outside source, other than that of the FDA.

I would also like some answers from Big Pharma, ACS, the medical establishment, and all of the officials (elected and non-elected) as to why the Banbury Report was buried and banned from scientific discussion. How many millions of people have passed on prematurely because of this decision? This prohibition on truth is a cover up that is equal, if not bigger, to any fallacy put forth by the tobacco industry.

This is why I do not trust Mr. Waxman and the FDA.

#11 Bill Godshall on 03.19.09 at 2:23 PM

The Burr bill would increase tobacco sales to youth by wiping out all existing federal, state and local laws and replacing them with a nationwide law that immunizes tobacco retailers from penalties (when caught selling to minors), impose a $25 fine on minimum wage retail clerks (who have a 6 week turnover), while imposing a $25 fine and 4-10 hours of community service for any youth caught possessing or using tobacco.

The Burr bill also would perpetuate the safer cigarette myth/fraud by requiring tar levels (based upon unreliable smoke machine tests) to be posted on all cigarette packs, and would allow reduced exposure claims for cigarettes (also based on unreliable smoke machine tests).

#12 Anonymous on 03.19.09 at 4:05 PM


As someone who smokes, I can tell you that you are wrong about the tar issue. I smoke ultra low tar cigarettes and I know that there is a difference because I can feel the difference in my voice (I’m a singer)and in my lungs (I’m a hiker/runner). Lower tar IS safer than heavier tar cigarettes. To say otherwise is a blatant lie that takes away my right as an ADULT to make decisions about the products that I choose. I am paying for it after all. If the customers demand to know how much tar there is in a cigarette, it should not be up to any self-righteous official to deny them that right. It is clear that you are a prohibitionist. Therefore, the health of millions of smokers is clearly not at the top of your agenda.

BTW, speaking of “myths”, I am told that low-tar cigarettes are no better not because of the lower-tar, but because smokers tend to smoke more (and take deeper drags) low-tar cigarettes. Right. That’s why I have 5 cigarettes a day, which is 75% less than I used to smoke when I smoked heavier tar cigarettes. If and when I do try a heavier cigarette, it is too strong for me. I know, I’m a smoker. Enough with the propaganda already.

#13 TAZ on 03.20.09 at 11:00 AM

Found this news article on the TMA site:

In a letter to US Reps. Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) and Mike McIntyre (D-North Carolina), Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, commended the lawmakers for their work on HR 1261 or The Youth Prevention and Tobacco Harm Reduction Act, which would establish a new Tobacco Harm Reduction Center within the US Department of Health and Human Services to regulate tobacco products, saying their bill is a “tougher, science-based alternative” to US Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-California) HR 1256, which, Dr. Whalen said, fails to promote harm reduction strategies, leaving the country’s over 40 million smokers with “the same old “quit or die” pair of options.” (American Council on Science and Health 03/12)

#14 jredheadgirl on 03.20.09 at 10:16 PM


Great find! Good for Dr. Whelan! She sounds like someone with personal and scientific integrity….oh, and someone with a conscience:-)

#15 jredheadgirl on 03.20.09 at 10:19 PM


One more thing…. Do you have a link? Thanks!

#16 OTP Kid on 03.24.09 at 12:30 PM

The general public needs to know that Waxman supports the same piece of legislation as Philip Morris, that will kill this bill for sure.

#17 Anonymous on 03.24.09 at 1:13 PM

Why would Waxman be on the same side as Philip Morris? Does this mean that Philip Morris is not interested in developing a safer cigarette? The reason I ask is that it is clear that Waxman’s bill ignores the main premise (a safer cigarette) of why tobacco would need to be regulated in the first place. Something stinks around here…..and the public (especially smokers) is in the dark as usual.

#18 TAZ on 04.02.09 at 11:52 AM

House Approves FDA Tobacco Bill

Under the bill, the FDA would have the power to block or approve new products, regulate products’ ingredients and restrict advertising and marketing.

WASHINGTON — In a 298-112 vote, the House passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the tobacco industry, according to an Associated Press report.

Under the bill, the FDA would have the power to block or approve new products, regulate products’ ingredients and restrict advertising and marketing, as well as require larger warnings on packages. It would also require the FDA to set up a new Center for Tobacco Products, and its operations would be financed with up to $712 million annually in fees paid by the tobacco industry, based on market share, according to published reports.

The Senate could take up its version of the bill later this month. Supporters are confident they can get Senate passage and President Barack Obama’s signature on the bill, the AP reported.

#19 OTP Kid on 04.29.09 at 3:09 PM

Waxman is on the same side as Philip Morris for different reasons. Waxman wants to control tobacco via onerous FDA regulations, and PM wants to control market share due to onerous FDA regulation. Imperial Tobacco Canada made the same move in the early 90’s with the same goal in mind when they supported advertising and marketing restrictions, which were struck down 5 years later by the Supreme Court of Canada. PM knows smaller companies cannot meet the criteria that will be required by the FDA; additionally, this is the same reason PM will thwart the e-cigarette concept through the FDA.

#20 Copenhagen Charlie on 04.29.09 at 3:44 PM

Good old PM – Need to just call them the lion in sheep’s clothing – I’m being nice! It’s always been about share!

#21 Shu on 06.12.09 at 11:21 AM

If someone really wants to regulate cigs how about they make ALL cigarettes 100% tobacco with NO additives at ALL.

#22 Shu on 06.12.09 at 11:28 AM

Oh also a note about the so called fire safe cigarettes. Only non smokers could have devised such a thing as these smokes are more dangerous for potential fires than they were before and i have the burn holes to prove it. They said it’s to save lives. Around 850 people die every year from cig related fires, that’s it. Compared to other things this is a dismal number. The REAL reason they made FSC is because of insurance companies lobbyists. The insurance companies lost hundreds of millions of dollars in those fires and that’s the ONLY reason why we have FSC now. I buy my smokes now from an Indian Reservation in NY which are 100% tobacco and they are not FSC.

Leave a Comment