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Hate Crimes on the rise in the United States. Also on the Wednesday rundown: a big hearing in Denver on a proposed rollback of methane limits; plus find out about "Give to the Max Day."

Daily Newscasts

U.S. Senate Delivers Gut-Punch to Tobacco Industry

June 12, 2009

Seattle, WA - The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to give regulatory control of tobacco products to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The House already passed a similar bill, and must now vote on the Senate’s changes. Both Washington senators voted in favor of the bill, and Chris Sherwin, vice president of advocacy for the American Heart Association-Pacific Northwest, says high health care costs associated with tobacco use were among the deciding factors.

"I think the whole effort to look at the health care system and what’s driving healthcare costs was a major factor, especially when people found out there’s much more regulation over a box of macaroni and cheese than over tobacco."

Opponents argue the FDA is too swamped to take on tobacco regulation, but groups like the American Heart Association say it’s the only appropriate agency for the job, because of its consumer protection and food safety responsibilities. Lucy Culp works for the Heart Association in Washington.

"Reform that needs to happen at the FDA isn't necessarily the focus of this bill. The FDA oversees orange juice; they oversee cat food. Why in the world don't they oversee tobacco?"

The House is expected to take up the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act again today. It could be on President Obama’s desk by next week. Tobacco control advocates say tighter regulations would reduce some of the 400,000 deaths annually attributed to smoking.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA