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May 8, 2009

2009

May 8, 2009

Senate FDA Tobacco Bill Introduced - Committee Mark Up Next Week

This week, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) introduced the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S.982) - legislation to grant the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. The bill has 47 cosponsors and closely mirrors the House version of the bill that passed earlier this year by a vote of 298 to 112.

The legislation grants the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco and would :

  • Crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to children
  • Ban candy-flavored cigarettes, which clearly are aimed at kids
  • Require disclosure of the contents of tobacco products and tobacco industry research about the health effects of their products
  • Require changes in tobacco products such as the removal of harmful ingredients
  • Stop tobacco companies from making health claims about their products that are not scientifically proven or that would discourage current tobacco users from quitting or encourage new users to start
  • Require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products
  • Prohibit terms such as "light" "mild" and "low-tar" that mislead consumers into believing that certain cigarettes are safer than others

The Senate Labor Health Education Labor and Pensions committee is scheduled to mark up the bill next week. During the committee mark up, it is expected that Senator Burr (D-NC) will offer an alternative bill to give the federal government authority to regulate tobacco. The Burr bill sets up a series of weak controls on tobacco products and does little to prevent children from using tobacco products. The Burr bill is strongly opposed by the ATS and the larger public health community.

The Senate consideration of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act bring Congress one step closer to enacting this essential public health legislation. The tobacco control community has been working for years to enact meaningful FDA control of tobacco products. The ATS strongly encourages all members to contact their Senators and urge them to support the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (S. 982). ATS members can send an email message to their Senators from the ATS Web site at: http://www.thoracic.org/sections/about-ats/advocacy/take-action-now.html

Budget: President Obama Releases FY2010 Budget

This week, the President released his FY2010 proposed budget. The proposed budget outlines the following health-related priorities:

  • Creation of a $630 billion reserve fund to partially finance health reform
  • Expansion of incentives and other activities to speed the adoption of health information technology
  • Initiation of a plan to double the cancer research budget by 2017
  • Provides a $1 billion funding increase for the Food and Drug Administration to improve food inspection and drug safety standards and facilitate drug reimportation
  • Strengthening of the Medicare program through quality care incentives and payment reform
  • Provides $1 billion to address health professional shortages in underserved areas through education incentives and other initiatives
  • Provides $50 million for comparative effectiveness research through the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research

Overall, the President's budget proposes a 1.4 percent increase for the NIH, which is distributed fairly evenly across most of the institutes, with the exception of the National Cancer Institute, which is slated to receive a 5 percent increase under the President's plan to double cancer research over eight years. This small funding increase for the NIH is in addition to the supplemental funding that the institute received in FY09 through the economic stimulus law, which translated to $5 billion per year for FY09 and FY10. The VA Research program would receive a nearly 15 percent increase to its budget and the EPA is slated for its biggest budget increase in the 39-year history of the agency. The CDC would receive a $32 million increase to its FY09 budget level.

The next steps in the annual budget process are for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to draft FY2010 spending bills. The House Appropriations Subcommittees are drafting their bills this month and are scheduled to vote on each individual bill beginning in June. The Senate Appropriations Committee will begin this process a few weeks later. The President's budget serves as a guideline to the Appropriations Committees, but they may allocate different funding levels for programs. The ATS Washington Office will keep members informed of the budget process and alert members when action is necessary to support health research and services programs.

Below are funding level tables for NIH institutes, the EPA, VA Research, USAID and CDC programs from FY08 to the proposed FY2010 budget.

Chart 1
Chart 2
Chart 3

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator