In 1995, David Kessler, former head of the Food and Drug Administration tried to regulate nicotine. His efforts failed when the regulations were struck down in the federal court system. Then, in 2004, the United States Senate passed proposed legislation to do so, only to have the House of Representatives fail to take up the issue. Now, Congress has again decided to evaluate whether the Food and Drug Administration should be charged with regulating tobacco marketing and the contents of tobacco products. If enacted, Congress would empower the FDA to regulate the contents of tobacco products sold in the United States.
Despite the fact that the bill has multiple goals which would greatly benefit the health of millions of Americans, President Bush and a parade of Senators voiced their strong opposition to this proposal, indicating, among other reasons, that the FDA is overburdened and that tobacco should not be a regulated product at all, because regulation would be equated in many people’s minds to “safe.” In a statement shortly after the vote, a White House spokeswoman, Emily A. Lawrimore, said the administration thought that the legislation would do more harm than good, creating a false impression that regulated tobacco products were safe. “The administration believes that tobacco is not a drug or device to be regulated by the F.D.A.”