Today the US House of Representatives approved bi-partisan legislation co-sponsored by Reps Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and [removed]Todd Platts (R-Pa)[/removed] that gives the Us Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to oversee and regulate tobacco marketing and sales in the United States.

“This legislation is a major victory for those of us who prize the health of this nation over the profits of tobacco companies,” says J. Randall Curtis, MD, MPH, president-elect of the American Thoracic Society (ATS), in a release from the ATS. “We applaud the House for passing the bill and hope that the Senate will move it through quickly so that President Obama can sign it into law as he has already indicated he would. Swift action could prevent tens of thousands of future deaths.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act specifically gives the FDA authority to:
•    Restrict tobacco advertising, especially to children
•    Ban candy-flavored cigarettes
•    Require tobacco companies to disclose the contents of tobacco products, changes to their products and research about the health effects of their products
•    Require changes in tobacco products, such as the removal or reduction of harmful ingredients
•    Prohibit health claims about so-called "reduced risk" products that are not scientifically proven or that would discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start
•    Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products
•    Prohibit advertising or terms that imply health claims such as "low-tar," "light" and "mild" that have mislead consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer than others
The bill faces likely challenges in the Senate where Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kay Hagan (D-NC), introduced competing legislation. The Burr-Hagen legislation would create a new department altogether to oversee tobacco regulation.

You can contact your senator about this issue through the American Lung Association.