The Senate approved a bill Thursday by a 79-17 vote that gives the Food and Drug Administration sweeping new powers to regulate tobacco products, including such factors as the amount of addictive nicotine in a cigarette and cigarette packaging and marketing. The 79-17 vote virtually ensures the bill will become law. The measure now goes to the House, which passed a nearly identical version in April and could take a final vote today. President Barack Obama, a smoker who has struggled to quit, has said he will sign the legislation. Farm Bureau supported an amendment by Sens. Richard Burr (R–N.C.) and Kay Hagan (D–N.C.) that would have provided protection to growers and ensured tobacco regulation didn’t reach the farm gate. That amendment failed by a vote of 36-60. No other amendments, including other grower protection amendments supported by Farm Bureau, were allowed for a vote. Farm Bureau’s position on FDA regulation of tobacco products is that any FDA involvement should be confined to processing and distribution and should not apply to the farm. Both the Senate and House versions of the legislation provide the potential for de facto on-farm regulation.
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