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Tobacco Companies to Pay for Buyout, But FDA Authority Still Lacking

Friday, October 8, 2004

Yesterday House and Senate committee members agreed on a bill that would have the tobacco industry, rather than taxpayers, spend $9.6 billion to buy out tobacco quotas. While the bill rightly ends an outdated, lopsided subsidy system, Congress let slip a key provision that would have given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate the manufacture and sale of cigarettes. Without FDA authority to regulate tobacco, this legislation does not pass the sniff test.

The Washington Post reports that at least two Senators plan to either kill the bill or attempt to put the tobacco regulation provision back in the bill.

An EWG analysis, released last month, uses US Department of Agriculture data to show that 436,719 farm entities will share the $9.6 billion, with the average grower or holder collecting an average payment of $21,982. Some 462 farm entities will receive over one million dollars each, and over 7,800 estates stand to collect $172 million from the tobacco industry.