The bills do not permit an all-out ban on nicotine. Lawmakers made additional concessions to the industry by requiring the FDA to consider the economic impact of any new restrictions and giving tobacco companies nonvoting representation on a new scientific advisory panel.
Those compromises are not insubstantial, said Stanton A. Glantz, a longtime tobacco control advocate who heads the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UC San Francisco. "One thing one learns from dealing with tobacco companies is that the devil is in the details."
Glantz is among a handful of public health advocates who fear that tobacco companies will use the regulatory process to enhance the reputation of their products.
Several Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns that tobacco products will be perceived as safer because they are regulated by the FDA.
There is some risk that could decrease smokers' motivation to quit, said Dorothy Hatsukami, associate director of cancer prevention and control at the University of Minnesota's Masonic Cancer Center.
"We have to make sure that we are continuing to educate the public to let them know that even if these products have reduced toxicants, they are still harmful," Hatsukami said.
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1964: The surgeon general issues a landmark report linking smoking to lung cancer.
1965: Warning labels are mandated on cigarette packs stating, "Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health."
1969: Cigarette advertising is banned on TV and radio.
1979: Smoking is restricted in all federal buildings in the United States.
1990: Smoking is banned on all U.S. commercial airline flights.
1994: Mississippi becomes the first state to sue the tobacco industry to recover costs for tobacco-related illnesses.
1998: The tobacco industry agrees to pay $206 billion, which will help fund anti-tobacco programs, as part of a settlement agreement with 46 states.
2000: U.S. Supreme Court rejects a Clinton administration effort to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco.
2009: Congress approves the largest-ever increase in the federal cigarette tax, boosting it 62 cents, to $1.01 a pack.
Source: Office of the Surgeon General