Obama signs tobacco legislation

6/22/2009

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama signed legislation into law Monday that imposes sweeping new regulations on tobacco.

The law, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, bans several common tobacco products and marketing techniques and creates a new center within the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Tobacco Products, to oversee regulation of the industry.

In an address in the White House Rose Garden, Obama cited the tobacco industry’s targeting of children.

“They’re aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry,” Obama said. “They’re exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn and where they play. Most insidiously, they are offered products with flavorings that mask the taste of tobacco and make it more tempting.”

Those products, such as cigarettes flavored with cloves and fruit, will be gone by October, though menthol cigarettes will remain legal. Products advertised as “light,” “low-tar” and “mild” will disappear from store shelves by July 2010.

Other youth-targeted marketing, such as sponsorship of athletic and entertainment events using tobacco product brand names and logos, selling or giving out promotional items with brand names and logos of tobacco products and distributing free cigarette samples will also be banned, as will tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds. Distributing free samples of smokeless tobacco will still be allowed in adults-only venues.

Tobacco companies must submit to the agency a full list of additives and ingredients in tobacco products, a description of nicotine content and delivery and information about the health effects of tobacco by January 2010. By July 2011, cigarette packs will carry warning labels that occupy half of the front and back panels.

“Today, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, healthcare and consumer advocates, the decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco has emerged victorious,” Obama said.

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