Obama hails passage of tobacco regulation bill

In anticipation of signing a bill that would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cigarettes, President Obama said Friday that the legislation "represents change in Washington."

The House agreed to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act on a 307-97 vote. The bill, sent to Obama on Friday, empowers the FDA to regulate tobacco products. Obama is expected to sign it.


Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House, said the bill "obviously has been a long time coming."

"After a decade of opposition, all of us are about to achieve victory with this bill," Obama said.

The president said the bill will represent the fourth bipartisan bill in the last month "that protects the American consumer, changes the way Washington works and who Washington works for."

Obama, a former smoker, noted in his brief remarks that smoking adds $100 billion to healthcare costs every year, and every day 1,000 kids under the age of 18 start smoking.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), FDA officials would gain new power to regulate the ingredients, marketing and disclosure requirements of cigarettes, including the power to ban advertising that seeks to downplay the drug's effect, such as that which promotes cigarettes as "low-tar" or "mild." 

The bill also circumvents a March 2000 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Clinton administration attempt to regulate tobacco. On a 5-4 vote, justices at the time said the FDA was "overreaching" in attempting to regulate tobacco without congressional approval.