FDA-Tobacco Regulation No Public Service

Contact: Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273


Washington, DC, October 6, 2004—A Senate-passed plan for increasing the federal government’s regulation of tobacco was defeated in a congressional conference committee on Tuesday.  The plan would have put the Food and Drug Administration in charge of tobacco manufacturing and advertising.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


Sam Kazman, General Counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, praised the measure’s defeat.


“Smoking may be hazardous to your health, but FDA regulation is no cure,” said Kazman.  “The end result would be to outlaw tobacco, a return to failed Prohibition-style tactics.”


“FDA regulation is part of a plan that will squelch freedom, turn average Americans into scofflaws, and grow the black market,” added Christine Hall, CEI ‘s Director of Research


Anti-smoking activists and tobacco giant Altria/Philip Morris formed an unusual alliance in arguing that FDA regulation would make tobacco products safer.  Other tobacco companies opposed the plan, dubbing it the “Philip Morris monopoly act.”  The Senate, with little debate, passed such a plan in July as an add-on to a bill concerning trade tariffs.  House conferees on Tuesday rejected Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) attempt to include the FDA provision in the final bill.


The FDA’s mandate is to regulate food and pharmaceuticals.  Putting such a health-based agency in charge of cigarettes would likely lead to the eventual end of that product. 


“The risks of smoking are well-known, and in a free society adults have the right to take those risks,” Kazman concluded.


Under current laws, the sale and advertising of tobacco is already regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and by states as part of a 1998 settlement between state attorneys general and major tobacco companies.