<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/light_cigarettes">Anti-tobacco advocates are waiting to hear today if The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passes in the Senate. The Act was approved in the House in April, said Reason.com, and contains a censorship provision prohibiting cigarette makers from making “any statement directed to consumers” that “would reasonably be expected to result in consumers believing” a tobacco product “is regulated, inspected, or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”
The LA Times noted that the House approved a similar measure by a nearly three-to-one majority and, said Reason.com, is supported by President Barack Obama. The bill gives the FDA Knock Off movie full
authority to regulate tobacco products, but does note that, “consumers are likely to be confused and misled” and might misunderstand thinking that such regulation means the products are safer, when they are not, noted Reason.com.
If approved, the measure will require tobacco companies to provide the FDA with ingredient information and the FDA, in turn, could ban such companies from labeling cigarettes as light, said the LA Times, which added that, based on research, light cigarettes offer no health benefits over nonlight cigarettes. The measure would also authorize advertising changes and require clearer package warning labels and ingredient lists.
In a recent court case, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said there was ample evidence to conclude that the tobacco industry intended to deceive the public about the dangers of smoking. According to a previous Dow Jones News Wire, the panel upheld most of a lower court ruling, which found that the industryâ€™s deceptive marketing schemes violated federal anti-racketeering statutes. The original 2006 case resulted in a lower court banning labels such as â€œlow tarâ€ and â€œlightâ€ for cigarettes. In addition to the bans, the 2006 decision required manufacturers to issue corrective statements about their productsâ€™ dangers, which would appear on television, newspapers, product packaging, and countertop displays in retail outlets.
Meanwhile, the pending bill does have its flaws, and was actually designed with the help of Philip Morris, the cigarette giant, said the LA Times. The law will not enable the FDA to ban cigarettes or nicotine, but does allow for regulation of nicotine levels and bans flavorings meant to make cigarettes more tempting to novice smokers, such as chocolate, pineapple, and cloves, said the LA Times. Menthol was not mentioned in the list of banned flavorings, but can be banned by the FDA according to the bill.
Many believe that a ban on mentholâ€”the most popular flavoring and one that smooths the taste of cigarette smokeâ€”would go a long way toward cutting cigarette use, said the LA Times. Although research has not revealed why, menthol is very popular among African Americans, accounting for the vast majorityâ€”three-quartersâ€”of the cigarettes smoked by this population and one-quarter of all cigarettes smoked in the United States, said the LA Times. Also, not only does the bill provide the FDA with specific authorization to ban menthol, it directs the FDA to make this ban a priority for its scientific advisory panel on cigarettes, the paper noted.