De onderhandelingen over een wetsontwerp dat voorzag in een totale controle van de tabaksindustrie door de FDA, het staatstoezichtsorgaan op geneesmiddelen, zijn voor onbepaalde tijd afgebroken. Het uitkopen van tabaksboeren, een maatregel die ook onderdeel van de beoogde wet was, komt daarmee eveneens op losse schroeven te staan.
House aides had said that similar FDA legislation would likely have remained in final legislation written when negotiators from both chambers met in conference. That way, the bill would have had a better chance of passing in the House, but would also have satisfied lawmakers who wish to see greater regulation of tobacco products.
But when Senate Democrats saw Gregg’s final proposal, they said that the provision that allowed only Congress to ban cigarettes was so vaguely written it could have prevented the FDA from requiring changes to make cigarettes safer.
“The vague language was a loophole that could prevent FDA from taking any steps to reduce the harm caused by tobacco,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“We’re not willing to support FDA regulations that are too weak,” said Allison Dobson, spokeswoman for Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, before the final legislation was offered. “I think there are a lot of senators who feel strongly that this shouldn’t be a sham.”
But lawmakers say the move was necessary to help the ailing farming community as well as provide regulations aimed to protect the public health.
The FDA asserted authority over cigarettes in 1996, but the Supreme Court later ruled that only Congress can give the FDA that power.