Waxman set to move tobacco legislation

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has scheduled a mark up Wednesday on a slew of healthcare bills but one of them really stands out: a measure to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products.

Waxman has made a career crusading against tobacco use (and tobacco companies) so it's not much of a surprise that he'd want to advance this bill early in the year. Waxman penned an op-ed piece for The Hill back in 2007 promoting his bill; read it here.

This is a major priority for Waxman and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and is sure to reignite the lobbying fight between Philip Morris's parent company, Altria, which supports FDA regulation, and the rest of the tobacco industry.

Democrats have been trying to put tobacco under FDA control since the Clinton administration but have some up short so far. The House passed the bill last August but though the Senate version made it through committee, it never got a floor vote. Back in 2004, the Senate passed the tobacco regulation bill by unanimous consent so it's a fair bet President Obama could be signing this bill pretty soon.

Here's the full slate for Wednesday's mark-up, courtesy a committee press release:
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

10:00 a.m. Business Meeting to mark up several measures relating to the protection of public health that passed the House with bipartisan support under suspension in the 110th Congress. The agenda includes: