New anti-smoking law gives FDA unprecedented power - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New anti-smoking law gives FDA unprecedented power

By Christy Hendricks - email

MAYFIELD, KY (KFVS) - President Obama enacted the nation's toughest anti-smoking law Monday.

It gives the FDA unprecedented powers to regulate tobacco, including power to regulate what goes in to tobacco products and targets the industry's marketing toward young people.

Anti-smoking advocates say it's a victory for better health, but some retailers say it's another punch in the gut for sales.

"I think they're trying to plain outlaw it period," said Tony Wilson, manager of Highway Oil in Mayfield.

Wilson says new regulations on the tobacco industry will continue to burn away the sales at the full service gas station he manages.

He's seen a drop in sales after tax increases in April and says the new law won't help.

"This here's gonna hurt business even more," Wilson said. 

The new law prohibits marketing campaigns aimed at children and candy-flavored cigarettes.

That's something the Purchase District Health Department has been working for in a state with a high smoking rate. The Purchase Area Tobacco Coalition for Health recently sponsored an anti-smoking campaign toward teens.

"The main target of our coalition has been teens and we've used a campaign, billboards, and TV ads to use kids themselves to help discourage their peers from taking up the habit and to quit the habit," Charlie Ross, the public health director at the Purchase District Health Department. 

Ross says the law shows society's acceptance of more restrictions on smoking, but not everyone agrees.

"I don't think candy cigarettes gonna hurt nobody," Wilson said. "If their parents raise them up right they're not going to smoke to start with.  I think that should be their decision and not the government's."

One of the restrictions to take effect July of 2010 is that tobacco companies can no longer use the words "light," "low," or "mild" on their products.

The FDA can now regulate the ingredients in tobacco products and make them public.

"Some of them have chocolate.  Some the them has exotic flavors in them, but they never have posted that. It would be nice to see some of that on there," said Dan Laster, owner of Indians Hills Trading Post in Wickliffe.

He was tobacco accounts for 40 percent of his total sales. 

Laster says he's not worried about the new regulations affecting his sales, but isn't fond of more rules.

"I'm a smoker and one of my wishes for all my kids is for them to never pick that up," he said. "It's a bad habit we all know it.  I don't need the government to tell me that."

The new law also creates a Center for Tobacco Products to oversee the regulation.

Most of the new rules will be put in place in 2010.

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