Senate bill gives FDA tobacco oversight

Similar legislation has passed both branches of Congress giving the agency regulatory power of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Senate Thursday backed a plan giving the Food and Drug Administration power to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products, allowing the agency to curb advertisements, require stronger package warnings and inspect manufacturers.

Supporters said the bill, which passed in a bipartisan 79-17 vote, would help rein in the tobacco industry and curb smoking, especially among teenagers and children.

Hundreds of health advocacy groups lobbied for the measure, which has divided the tobacco industry.

A similar measure has already passed the House. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier on Thursday she wanted to look closely at the Senate's bill. "But from what I have seen so far, I believe it will be possible for us to accept their bill and send it right on to the president."

President Barack Obama, who has discussed his own struggles to quit smoking, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Under the Senate plan, industry user fees would fund a new FDA tobacco division to inspect manufacturers as well as set certain cigarette standards. The bill also restricts vending machine sales and curbs advertising targeting youth. To top of page

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