Thursday, July 31, 2008

FDA to Regulate Tobacco Industry?

Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would grant authority to the Food and Drug Commission to regulate tobacco products. However, according to the New York Times, it appears as if any such legislation will be vetoed by the President.

Proponents of the legislation argue that granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products would aid in reducing teen smoking and health issues related to smoking. With this authority, the FDA will be able to regulate advertising and set guidelines on who can purchase these products and where.

Those opposing the legislation claim that this places too large of a burden on the FDA. The FDA would be responsible for approving all new tobacco products, taking away time from monitoring other products. Some even claim that, by having FDA approval, consumers will have the impression that these products are safe, when in fact there will still remain many of the health risks currently associated with tobacco products.

Surprisingly, tobacco companies are split in their support of this proposed regulation. Some companies claim that this legislation will require mergers, or closing, of companies as only large tobacco companies will be able to comply with any new standards and guidelines. However, other tobacco companies, both large and small, are fully behind this legislation.

As a non-smoker, it is easy for me to jump on the bandwagon and say that the tobacco industry definitely needs some regulation, and that the FDA is the agency to provide these regulations. While I do see that opponents of such legislation make some valid points, the potential benefits to be garnered from this legislation seem to outweigh many of these negatives. This legislation would still allow those who choose to use tobacco products the opportunity to do so, while attempting to minimize risks, to the extent possible, and hopefully reducing the number of underage smokers.

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