08.01.07

Burr Votes Against “Misguided” Tobacco Legislation

Bill would require FDA to regulate tobacco products

U.S. Senator Richard Burr today voted against legislation that would place regulation of tobacco products under the control of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) would require the FDA to regulate existing tobacco products and approve any new tobacco product before it could be sold in the United States. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved the bill by a vote of 13 - 8.

"I am disappointed this misguided bill passed out of Committee," Burr said. "The FDA is already strapped in making sure drugs, food and medical devices are safe. It does not make sense to redirect the agency from that mission to further regulate tobacco," Burr added. The FDA is currently tasked with assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary medical products, foods, and cosmetics. If passed by the Senate, this legislation would redirect scientists away from the agency's core mission of evaluating lifesaving drugs to concentrate on regulating tobacco. With fewer employees to review applications, approval times for medications and medical devices vital to the public health will lag even further behind.

"Furthermore, this legislation will not result in a reduced risk cigarette. It will effectively chill the development of new, perhaps reduced risk, tobacco products as the cost and regulatory burden of bringing a new, reduced risk, cigarette to market skyrockets. I support regulations that curtail youth smoking and could have supported legislation to do that."

Under the legislation, existing tobacco products will change very little and new products will be required to undergo a government application process. The new regulations would create a complicated regulatory process that will discourage new products from ever reaching the market. Furthermore, the bill would disallow any communication of research before an application is approved, effectively prohibiting any dialogue among consumers, scientists, and manufacturers.

"I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to find a practical way to improve tobacco products in a way that makes sense and does not harm North Carolina's farmers," Burr added.