Senate to vote on FDA power to regulate tobacco

WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate is set to pass a tobacco control bill today.

The House has already passed a similar bill, and resolution of relatively minor differences would send it to President Barack Obama, who supports it.

The measure would give the federal government broad new powers to monitor and change a toxic substance that contributes to some 400,000 deaths every year.

The legislation would, for the first time, give the Food and Drug Administration legal authority to regulate the sale, manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products.

Supporters hail it as a milestone in efforts to reduce smoking. They compare it to the 1964 surgeon general's warning and the 1990 banning of smoking on planes.

Opponents argue that the FDA, which is in charge of ensuring the safety of food and drug products, is the wrong place to regulate an item that is injurious to health.