Landmark legislation approved by the Senate yesterday will give the federal government sweeping new powers to oversee tobacco products, allowing regulators to control factors including the amount of addictive nicotine in a cigarette and how that cigarette is packaged and marketed.
For the 20 percent of Americans who smoke, the law will mean confronting more graphic warnings of the risks of their habit every time they pick up a pack. The law also bans most cigarette flavorings.
For the $89 billion tobacco industry, it will mean new requirements to disclose the ingredients in cigarettes and other tobacco products, and severe limitations on how they are advertised and promoted. The government could also issue new rules on nicotine content, flavorings and other product features.
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Many of the new restrictions are aimed at preventing children from starting to smoke. Cherry and other fruit flavorings that appeal to children will be banned, along with marketing aimed at younger smokers, such as the use of Joe Camel and other cartoon characters.
The 79 to 17 vote virtually ensured that the bill will become law. The measure now goes to the House, which passed a nearly identical version in April and could take a final vote today. President Obama, himself a smoker who has struggled to quit, has said he will sign it.