June 12, 2009
Congress is sending to President Barack Obama legislation that fundamentally changes the government's ability to impact the nation's smoking habit.
The bill passed by the House for the first time Friday gives the
Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate how cigarettes
and other tobacco products are made, marketed and sold. It could
curb the roughly 400,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking.
Special emphasis is given to decreasing smoking among young
people. Anti-smoking groups say some 3,500 youngsters smoke their
first cigarette every day, and of those, a thousand develop a
smoking habit that can last a lifetime and result in premature
The 307-97 vote in the House came a day after the Senate
approved the legislation on a 79-17 vote. Obama said the bill will
"make history" and he's promised to sign it.