Democrats in the U.S. Congress plan to renew efforts, possibly as soon as next week, to give the Food and Drug Administration regulatory authority over cigarettes, three congressional aides said on Friday.
Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy is expected to take the lead in the Senate by introducing a bill to give the FDA broad sway over tobacco products, aides said.
With the Democrats in power on Capitol Hill, Kennedy now chairs the committee that would consider the bill.
California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record) is expected to file a similar bill soon in the House of Representatives. Virginia Republican Rep. Tom Davis is planning to be a co-sponsor with Waxman, the aides said.
"This legislation has broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. We fully expect the Congress to consider the legislation quickly and we're hopeful it will pass with overwhelming support," said Bill Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an activist group.
For decades Congress and the states have chipped away at the ability of tobacco companies to sell their products to the public. The result is that these companies still reap billions in profits a year, while gaming the amount of nicotine in their products to hook new users more easily. Regulation of nicotine is the only thing that will stop them, and the sooner the better.