U.S. Senate imposes regulations on cigarettes, tabacco

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to impose federal regulations on cigarettes and other forms of tobacco.

The move will empower the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to control these products, which eventually kill half their regular users.

The House expects to vote on the bill Friday and quickly send it to the President Obama for signing into law.

The Senate legislation has only minor differences from a version the House passed in April. A White House spokesman, Reid H. Cherlin, said that President Obama, who was a co-sponsor of the bill when he was in the Senate, would sign the legislation when it reached his desk.

The passing of this bill was a big step for a legislative body which has refused to regulate tobacco, largely because of opposition from lawmakers from tobacco-growing states and their political allies. But with broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, and a campaign pledge by Barack Obama to sign such legislation if he became president, the anti-tobacco forces came into alignment.

This long-overdue grant of authority to F.D.A. to regulate tobacco products means that the agency can finally take the actions needed to protect our people from the most deadly of all consumer products”

— Massachusetts Democrat Edward M. Kennedy