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FDA Tobacco Regulation Assailed

In the New York Times, Patrick Basham explains why the bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the duty to regulate tobacco is "bad for competition in the tobacco industry and bad for public health." A Senate Committee recently approved the bill. Advertisers have criticized the bill on First Amendment grounds. Others have criticized the bill on public-health grounds. In other news, the full Senate just voted 68-to-31 to spend billions of dollars on children's health insurance for households making up to $100,000 a year. The bill's sponsors proposed to finance it through increased tobacco taxes. The Senate would increase cigarette taxes to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents, while the House would increase them to 84 cents. Critics complained that another of the proposed taxes -- a 20,000 percent increase in cigar taxes to $9.95 per cigar -- would lead to smuggling, tax evasion, and illegal sales.