House Approves Philip Morris Protection Act

Today, by a vote of 326 to 102, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would authorize the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. Assuming the Senate follows suit, a veto seems likely. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt has said he will recommend one. In a July 21 letter to Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Leavitt said "the Administration would strongly oppose this legislation" and raised various objections:

The regulatory obligations created by the bill would be a significant added responsibility for the Food and Drug Administration and one that is inconsistent with FDA's mission of ensuring food safety and the safety and effectiveness of drugs, biologics, and medical devices.

Unlike the medical products FDA regulates, tobacco products cannot be made safe, and there is no medically established public health benefit associated with tobacco.

Adding tobacco to FDA's regulatory responsibilities could also leave the public with the misperception that tobacco products are safe, or at least safer, with the FDA regulating them....

Implementing H.R. 1108 would require the FDA to establish a new center for tobacco control. This would impose an enormous implementation and resource burden on FDA at a time when it is faced with implementing the numerous provisions of the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 and undertaking efforts to enhance food safety and improve oversight of imported drugs and devices.

FDA does not have expertise focused on tobacco products, and establishing such a center would require a huge staffing effort and infrastructure development....

The bill may spend more than it raises in revenues [from industry fees]. This could result in diverting personnel and resources from the current programs within the FDA, with the potential to seriously undermine the public health. Moreover, this regressive tax [i.e., the cigarette price increase necessary to cover industry fees] will be borne disproportionately by lower-income individuals. The Administration strongly opposes tax increases to expand the size and scope of government....

Our trading partners believe that by banning the sale of clove cigarettes but not prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes, the bill raises questions under U.S. international trade obligations. The government of Indonesia has repeatedly objected to the bill on the ground that this disparate treatment is unjustified and incompatible with WTO trade rules.

I lay out my objections to the bill here, here, and here. I explain the objections of critics who consider the bill racist here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Eh. Nice to see we're getting at least some marginal benefit from our brief two years of mixed government.

  • Non Sequitor||

    Does Obama smoke menthols?


    For that matter, did he woo Michelle with colt .45 Malt liquor?
    Billy Dee Williams says "It does the trick every time".

  • ||

    Oh, for fuck's sake. Just ban the damn stuff already so we can get with the bootlegging and smoke-filled speakeasies.

  • ||

    I can't wait to see how this is going to work out. Will Philips profit from the increasing black market that is going to happen?

    It is nice to know that at least 326 of the dumbest human being on the planet have the moniker "congressman."

  • ||

    It is nice to know that at least 326 of the dumbest human being on the planet have the moniker "congressman."

    Joe's law strikes again!

  • ||

    The Administration strongly opposes tax increases to expand the size and scope of government....

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,HOOOHEEEE,HOOOOEEEEEE,HOOOOO. . .GASP. . . HOOO......

    I don't care who you are, that's fuckin' funny.

  • ||

    Come on TBone - you notice he didn't say 'The administration opposes increases in the size and scope of government.' They just oppose tax increases to purportedly fund the expansion they presumably, by their actions, support.
    -K

  • ||

    ...FDA's mission of ensuring food safety and the safety and effectiveness of drugs, biologics, and medical devices.

    Right. And it's a good thing we can say "mission accomplished" on that. Now remind me, what is it we're supposed to avoid right now? I forget if it was tomatoes, spinach or jalapenos.

  • ||

    Karl,

    Debt is tax (if not worse). Maybe not immediate, but inevitable.

  • ||

    Now remind me, what is it we're supposed to avoid right now? I forget if it was tomatoes, spinach or jalapenos.

    Care to point to any of the relevant statistics, sage? I suggest you look them up, as you might be surprised. The food supply is indeed safer than ever (part of a trend that's been continuing for decades, just like mine safety, workplace safety, airplane safety, etc.)

    Nice to see that Barney Frank could go right from sponsoring a marijuana decriminalization bill to voting to ban flavored cigarettes.

  • SIV||

    MexicanJalapenos, the natural-born ones are OK.

    Was the FDA the lead on that or the USDA or the CDC? There is so much overlap.Maybe they should have a turf war or a joint task force or something.

  • ||

    Mr. Bone - Debt != tax increase necessarily. Growth can erase debt. Not the way we've been running things lately, but the equation of debt with necessary tax increases is not correct. My comment was more tongue in cheek (as I'd assumed yours was), but if you meant it in that subtle sense you imply in the follow-up, I'd argue you are not correct in general, though for this specific case I'll give it to ya.
    -K

  • ||

    Well any self-respecting unreconstructed goth will tell you that this anti-clove, pro-menthol legislation is downright unprincipled.

    By the way... the new Camel snus is faintly reminiscent of Djarums. But you didn't hear it from me.

  • Colin||

    Expect lots of these nanny taxes if Obama becomes president. All constraints will be off.

  • SIV||

    When Democrats promise to tax the rich it always turns out they define that as everyone.

    They never offer tax cuts for individuals either, just those poll-tested "working families".

  • ||

    I'm stunned. I thought the tobacco industry lobby was one of the most efficient bribery distribution organizations in the country.

    -jcr

  • ||

    "I don't care who you are, that's fuckin' funny."

    It would be if it wasn't so tragic.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I'm with JW. Let organized crime make the argument for cigarettes like they did for alcohol.

  • KyleG||

    Why does Congress hate freedom?

  • Paul||

    But perhaps tobacco products aren't as dangerous as we've been led to believe. Perhaps second hand smoke isn't 'certain death' upon casual exposure as we've been told.

    Maybe, just maybe, this will have an unintentional effect of shrinking the scope of the drug war.

  • jtuf||

    At this point, smoking is an assumed risk. A pack a day is foolish, but if I want to smoke tobacco a few times a year, get off my back.

  • M. Simon||

    Schizophrenics smoke a lot to self medicate.

    Schizophrenia and Tobacco

  • ||

    Isn't there already an agency overseeing tobacco? Or does the "T" in BATF stand for Toots?

  • Nigel Watt||

    Would the fancy acronym for this act make it the PIMP act?

  • ||

    Try telling my children there's no health benefits in tobacco. A few cigs a day keeps the beatings away.

  • ||

    you notice he didn't say 'The administration opposes increases in the size and scope of government.'

    Yeah. Not a fuckin' syllable on that, was there?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    If the FDA ends up regulating tobacco, they ought to decide that the products are not safe and therefore can not be approved for sale. Tobacco would become the next illegal drug, but then we would end up with a huge portion of the population, along with a powerful businesses very pissed off. DEA, ATF, whoever would be annoyed with having to deal with this shit. The politicians would very quickly cave and get off tobacco's shit. It would also be a step forward for all the other drugs, as everyone realizes how retarded they have been.

    Hahaha, no, FDA will just go along with all this and nothing will happen.

    Regarding international trade, similar objections were brought up with internent gambling, and the feds just paid off the other countries and hasn't disclosed the deal.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement