US Senate Slaps Further Restrictions on Tobacco Marketers

19 July 2004

The US Senate last week slapped a raft of new marketing restrictions on the nation's cigarette manufacturers, thereby empowering the Food and Drug Administration to police packaging and advertising.

Although the FDA became responsible in 1996 for monitoring tobacco marketing, its power must be mandated by Congress, the US Supreme Court later ruled.

This means that cigarette-makers will have to put proof where their mouths are: ambiguous terms such as 'light' and 'ultra-light' will be banned if the FDA believes they have no health benefits. According to third-party studies, cigarettes carrying such tags have failed to reduce the health risks to smokers.

All major tobacco companies -- bar Philip Morris -- opposed the transfer of regulatory responsibility to the FDA. PM, however, believes the move will enable it to communicate with smokers more effectively about new, safer products in a regulated environment with clear, uniform rules.

Among the dissidents is R J Reynolds' svp Tommy Payne, who calls the regulations about to be imposed by the FDA "onerous". Some, Payne worries, could make cigarettes unacceptable to consumers: "You may have an awful cigarette that no one wants to buy," he said.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff