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Commentary: FDA should have oversight of tobacco products

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. It kills more than 400,000 Americans each year, according to the National Centers for Disease Control.

That alone should motivate members of the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the House and vote to give the Food and Drug Administration power to regulate tobacco products.

Senators shouldn't be fooled by a do–nothing alternative being pushed by senators Richard Burr, a Republican, and Kay Hagan, a Democrat, of North Carolina. It won't protect consumers. The only way to do that is hold tobacco to the same FDA scrutiny given other products.

Last week the House decisively passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D–Calif. This is a tough, good bill. The FDA would not be able to ban tars and nicotine, the harmful ingredients in cigarettes, outright. Yet it would be able to regulate cigarettes' contents, including controlling the amount of nicotine and other poisons that go into them. That's a key provision.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.