The “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco, and was signed by President Obama on Monday.
Obama said in signing the bill, “despite the best efforts and good progress made by so many leaders and advocates with us today, the tobacco industry and its special interest lobbying have generally won the day up on the Hill. … Fifteen years later, their campaign has finally failed. … Today, change has come to Washington.”
We have a sneaking suspicion that something isn’t kosher about this whole deal, especially since the biggest tobacco company in the United States (Altria, aka Philip Morris) supports the bill.
One health expert told Slate this bill was “a dream come true for Philip Morris,” in part because the company “protect[s its] domination of the market and make[s] it impossible for potentially competitive products to enter the market.” For one thing, effectively banning advertising won’t hurt Marlboro much, but it will crush smaller brands. And adding government control benefits those companies with the best lobbyists.
Regarding that “special interest lobbying” Obama claimed to be battling, Philip Morris is the unrivaled industry king. Since 2003, the tobacco lobby has spent $155 million. Altria spent a majority of that — $83 million. Although the rest of the industry was lobbying against this bill, most of the lobbying money was on the pro-regulation side.
Ah, it all makes sense now. Kill off the competition and the existing mega corporation continues to pay tribute to their political masters. For a candidate who campaigned on “hope and change”, particularly against lobbyists, this is deeply disappointing.