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WASHINGTON -- Key lawmakers have agreed on a plan under which the government could impose severe new restrictions on cigarette manufacturers, reported the Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration would be given authority to regulate tobacco, allowing it to ban certain ingredients in cigarettes and other products under twin bills.
Sens. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) have been haggling over the details of the legislation for the past several months after a near-deal collapsed last fall. The legislation forbids the FDA to ban cigarettes and says the agency can reduce but not eliminate nicotine. Also, use of the terms "light" and "ultra-light" would be prohibited in advertising unless the FDA approved them. The legislation would be paid for by assessing a fee on tobacco companies.
Officials from industry leader Philip Morris USA have said FDA regulation would help the company market new tobacco products to consumers. The other major manufacturers oppose FDA regulation, saying new advertising restrictions would prevent them from capturing any of Philip Morris's market share.
Senate lawmakers from tobacco states who previously fought FDA regulation now say they would support it in exchange for support of a measure that would pay tobacco farmers to leave the federal system that sets price and production controls on U.S. leaf.
Farmers say they want out of the system, which in recent years has dramatically restricted the amount of tobacco they can sell. Lawmakers say the buyout measure could be linked to the FDA legislation on the Senate floor, according to the AP.