US Congress passes historic curbs on deadly tobacco industry

WASHINGTON, (AFP) – The US Congress voted overwhelmingly Friday to grant the government historic powers to regulate cigarette makers, overturning decades of resistance by the powerful tobacco industry. The legislation, set to be signed into law later Friday by President Barack Obama, grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a regulatory body, the authority to regulate nicotine levels, ban added flavorings and require tough new warning labels in a bid to curb use among young people.

Obama hailed the passage of the measure as a “victory,” saying the bill “truly defines change in Washington,” while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the blow delivered to Big Tobacco was “historic.”

The House of Representatives, which passed a similar bill in April, voted 307 to 97 to endorse a version of the legislation adopted by the Senate on Thursday by 79 votes against 17.

“We’ve known for years, even decades, about the harmful, addictive, and often deadly effects of tobacco products. Each year, Americans pay nearly 100 billion dollars in added health care costs due to smoking,” Obama told reporters at the White House just minutes after the House approved the bill.

“Each day, about 1,000 young pe