(H.R.1256) On the Buyer of Indiana amendment, which would have required the FDA to consider the cost or feasibility of imposing restrictions or prohibitions on tobacco use, and would also have permitted the marketing of “lower-risk” tobacco products
H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, authorized the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) to regulate the marketing and production of tobacco products. The Act was a response to a Supreme Court ruling that Congress had to give specific authority to the FDA for it to be able to regulate tobacco. H.R. 1256 directed the FDA to end the marketing and sales of tobacco to children, to prevent cigarette manufacturers from calling cigarettes “light” or “less dangerous”, and to require the removal of certain damaging materials from cigarettes. It also established a new fee paid for by the cigarette industry to fund the additional work that would be required of the FDA.
This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Buyer (R-IN) that would have substituted new language for the provisions of H.R. 1256. The substitute language would have, among other things, required the FDA to consider the cost or feasibility of imposing restrictions or prohibitions on tobacco use, and would also have permitted the marketing of “lower-risk” or “light” tobacco products.
Rep. Waxman, who was the leading Democratic supporter of the Act, began by saying that “regulating tobacco is the single most important thing we can do right now to curb (its) deadly toll, and FDA is the only agency with the right combination of scientific expertise, regulatory experience, and public health mission to oversee these products effectively.” Waxman then noted that the bill was supported by many health-related organizations including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Rep. Buyer argued: “(T)he supporters of (the Act) claim that it is designed to protect children from the dangers of smoking. But (it) does not include any provision that actually protects minors from tobacco use.” He then cited support from The American Association of Public Health Physicians for his substitute, since it would require the states to use a portion of the funds they recovered in law suits against the tobacco companies to combat underage smoking and promote smoking cessation.
Rep.McIntyre (D-NC), who co-authored the substitute, noted that the tobacco industry contributes over $36 billion to the U.S. economy annually and employs over 19,000 people. He described the substitute as “a practical approach to government regulation of tobacco that protects health while preserving a vital economic engine for many communities . . . .” McIntyre pointed to out that the substitute also “specifically protects growers by preventing any government agency from requiring changes to traditional farming practices . . . .”
Rep. Smith (R-TX) expressed his support for the amendment because it would eliminate the prohibitions in H.R. 1256 on cigarette marketing in the bill, which he said constitute “speech restrictions . . . that raise serious first amendment concerns.” He expressed his belief that the result will be “a swarm of lawsuits that will only divert us from trying to develop more effective approaches to tobacco use . . . .”
The amendment failed by a vote of 142-284. One hundred and twenty-four Republicans and eighteen Democrats voted aye. Two hundred and thirty-three Democrats and fifty-one Republicans voted nay. As a result, the provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act remained in place.