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Obama Signs Tough New Anti-Smoking Law
Date:6/22/2009

FDA gets the authority to regulate tobacco manufacturing and marketing

MONDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- President Barack Obama signed into law Monday the nation's toughest anti-smoking law that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unprecedented powers to regulate tobacco products.

Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA will be able to ban labels on cigarettes such as "low tar" and "light," outlaw candy flavorings, and order companies to reduce nicotine in tobacco products. The law also requires large graphic warnings on cartons of cigarettes, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA can now regulate what goes into tobacco products, make those ingredients public, and prohibit marketing campaigns, particularly those that target children.

"The decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of smoking has finally emerged victorious," Obama said during the signing ceremony at the White House.

Obama has often talked about his own struggles to quit smoking, and did so again Monday, while criticizing the tobacco industry for marketing its products to children and young adults, the AP reported.

"I know -- I was one of these teenagers," he said. "I know how difficult it is to break this habit."

After the House of Representative approved the bill earlier this month, FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said the agency "welcomes the authority given to us by Congress to regulate tobacco products."

In a prepared statement, she added, "Because smoking and chewing tobacco cause serious public health problems, we view our new responsibilities as a logical extension of our public health mission to protect and to advance the health of Americans."

Numerous health agencies joined the chorus of approval after the Senate vote earlier this month; the law has been a decade in the making.

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