US President Barack Obama has approved a bill granting federal authorities unprecedented powers to ban added flavourings and require tough new warning labels in the tobacco industry.
AFP - US President Barack Obama Monday signed a bill into law giving the government historic powers to curb cigarette makers, declaring the move emblematic of the change he is bringing to Washington.
The law grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a regulatory body, the authority to ban added flavorings and require tough new warning labels in a bid to lessen tobacco use among young people.
"The legislation I'm signing today represents change that's been decades in the making," Obama said, before signing the bill, vigorously resisted by the tobacco lobby, in the White House Rose Garden.
"When I ran for president, I did so because I believed that, despite the power of the status quo and the influence of special interests, it was possible for us to bring change to Washington," Obama said.
"And today, despite decades of lobbying and advertising by the tobacco industry, we passed a law to help protect the next generation of Americans from growing up with a deadly habit that so many of our generation have lived with."
Under the new law, the FDA will create a new Center for Tobacco Products to oversee the science-based regulation of tobacco products in the United States.
It bans cigarettes dominantly flavored with candy, fruit and spice by October this year, and forces tobacco firms and importers to submit information to the FDA about ingredients and additives in tobacco products.
The measure places strict limits on tobacco advertising in publications with a significant teenage readership, and bans the use of words like "mild" or "light" in ads that makes tobacco products seem safer.
The FDA will now be required to enforce a rule banning all outdoor tobacco advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds, and the bill ends all tobacco-brand sponsorship of sport and entertainment events.
Under the measure, tobacco companies must disclose to the FDA the ingredients in their products, and allow the agency to require changes to protect public health, though not to reduce nicotine content to zero or ban a class of tobacco products.
Larger, more specific health warnings, will now have to cover the top third of the front and rear panels of the package and give the FDA the power to require graphic warning labels that cover half of the front and rear panels.
The bill was backed by health groups like the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association for its curbs on smoking, the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.
Date created : 2009-06-22