Tobacco bill thrills Blumenthal

John O'Brien Jun. 23, 2009, 4:24pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - One state attorney general is hailing President Obama's recent signing of a tobacco bill as a victory for he and his colleagues.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed Monday by Obama, gives the Food and Drug Administration more power in regulating the sale, advertising and content of cigarettes, which is just fine with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal is one of a few attorneys general left who were also in office when the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement was signed in 1998.

"This law is a singular, historic triumph for attorneys general who battled Big Tobacco to a settlement that would have established FDA regulatory authority, never approved by Congress, in the 1990s," Blumenthal said.

"The FDA must act swiftly to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, ban candy flavorings and block label misnomers such as 'low tar' and 'light.' Big Tobacco can no longer have free reign to mislead citizens, particularly our children, into lifetimes of tobacco-related addiction, disease and death."

Forty-six states and six territories signed the MSA, and the remaining four states have their own separate deals with tobacco companies. The MSA requires tobacco companies to make annual payments to the states to offset healthcare costs associated with tobacco use.

It has an estimated value of $246 billion, and outside counsel hired by the state attorneys general made billions in the agreement.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gives the FDA the power to disapprove any new tobacco product for sale and change the content of tobacco products.

"The federal government -- once a tobacco enabler -- will now be a fierce enforcement partner," Blumenthal said.

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