WASHINGTON - U.S. lawmakers took the final steps on Friday to pass sweeping legislation giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broad authority over cigarettes and other tobacco products, sending the bill to the president to be signed into law.
The measure not only bans most flavored products and print advertisements in publications aimed at children and teenagers, but also calls for larger package warnings and restricted vending machine sales.
It also allows the FDA for the first time to monitor and inspect tobacco companies. Cigarette makers would have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in user fees, register with the agency, and provide a list of all the products they make.
The bill, passed by the Senate on Thursday, was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in a 307-97 vote. President Barack Obama, who has openly admitted to his own battles to quit smoking, said he will quickly sign the measure into law.
It protects the American consumer... so I look forward to signing it, Obama said shortly after the House's vote.
Hundreds of health advocacy and other groups have pushed for the plan, saying it would not only help curb smoking and prevent disease but also reduce soaring U.S. health care costs.
With the exception of Altria Group Inc's Philip Morris unit, the largest U.S. cigarette maker, tobacco companies have protested the plan, saying it will hamper the industry's ability to bring new, safer products to market, among other complaints.