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Smoke-out: FDA regulation over tobacco is overdue

Neither myself, my brother nor my mother ever smoked but a running joke in the family has been the number of years each of us has inhaled because of my father's now abandoned smoking habit. Both of his two brothers and sister were lifelong smokers, the eldest brother recently deceased but not without his end-of-life companions consisting of an oxygen tank and a cigarette.   

My father and his siblings grew up as perfect targets for the tobacco industry: modest income, black and during the 1950s, when the tobacco industry virtually convinced America that smoking was healthy.  Fast-forward decades later and we now know better. Or, should. 

This is why Senate approval of landmark legislation giving the government far-reaching power to regulate the manufacturing and marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco products is so important. The House joined.

Thwarted efforts years ago to allow the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products could be corrected. The legislation before the House allows the FDA to regulate ingredients in tobacco products and ban the marketing of "light" cigarettes.

Fewer Americans are smoking. But the grip of a bad habit often takes hold at a young age, especially when cherry-flavored cigarettes are used as a lure. The measure also allows the FDA to ban most flavoring, allowing menthol.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said it best: “The United States Senate has finally said 'no' to Big Tobacco.”

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

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