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Congress Looking at Taking a Literal Smoking Break

April 2, 2007

Las Vegas, NV - Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they want to stub out some of the nation's most preventable health problems, that is those related to smoking. A bi-partisan bill is being considered in Congress that would give the FDA the power to regulate tobacco. Christopher Roller with the Cancer Action Network says regulation would help keep almost five million packs of cigarettes out of the mouths of Nevada's kids each year.

"[Regulations such as] banning advertising around schools and playgrounds and banning all flavorings other than menthol. There's a strawberry kind and a vanilla kind that encourage kids to get involved."

Opponents of the measure say having the FDA regulate tobacco would amount to an endorsement of the product. Roller points out that nicotine is a powerful drug, so the Food and Drug Administration is the logical place to regulate tobacco. The FDA would be able to impose restrictions that protect consumers from what Roller calls "gimmicks" designed to make smoking look safer than it really is.

"Another significant regulation that would not just be focused on youth, would be banning the use of labels such as 'light,' 'mild,' 'low,' and those kind of things that make people think that the cigarettes that they are purchasing are going to be less harmful, when in fact, they really aren't."

Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NV