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    NACS Withdraws Opposition to FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill

    New bill addresses all the association's concerns, NACS reports.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- NACS has withdrawn its opposition to H.R. 1108, a bill that would give regulatory authority on the manufacture and sale of tobacco to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the association stated.

    For several years, NACS opposed the bill and similar legislation, due to concerns about how the bills proposed to regulate retail sales of tobacco, however, the association has worked with House Energy and Commerce Committee members to include provisions that address retailer concerns, according to the association.

    "The current version of the legislation addresses all the concerns we had raised 18 months ago," NACS senior vice president of government relations, Lyle Beckwith, said in a statement. "We will not oppose this House bill as presently crafted."

    In October 2007, NACS president and CEO Hank Armour testified before the committee, explaining the concerns retailers have with the regulation, along with the changes that would protect the retail community, including changing penalties that revoke tobacco licenses from retailers after selling to minors, despite compliance programs.

    He said during that testimony: "I believe that is the wrong approach. While there may be fines imposed for any violation, losing the ability to sell tobacco often means that a convenience store goes out of business. That is just an economic reality given the very thin margins in the industry and the number of adults who frequent convenience store in order to buy tobacco."

    In addition, Armour testified that the FDA -- already busy monitoring the food supply -- would be responsible for duplicating regulatory efforts on retailers by the states, which already do a good job, and noted that the bill does not address the sale of tobacco products to minors over the internet.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to review H.R. 1108, called the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, on April 2. After that, NACS will provide more detailed analysis on the bill, the group stated.

    Meanwhile, the association will continue to oppose the language of S. 625, the Senate's version of the bill, unless the same changes are made, according to NACS.

    Besides NACS, the largest cigarette manufacturer in the U.S., Philip Morris USA (PM USA), has supported bills calling for FDA regulation of tobacco, while second largest cigarette manufacturer, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJRT) has opposed such regulation.

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