New tobacco legislation gives FDA more power; East Texans leery

By Philippe Djegal - email

TYLER, TX (KTRE) - Congress says the legislation aims to keep tobacco companies in check and make Americans healthier. But, some East Texans say this is just another case of the government over-stepping its bounds.

"People are going to smoke cigarettes," said Pierre Jones. "That's just a part of life."

"The government sort of acts as a parent to people, and I think people are strong enough to make their own decisions," said Joshua Keenan.

The legislation won't ban all tobacco products, and it will allow adults to make their own choices. That's according to President Obama. But, East Texans are leery about the White House granting the FDA more authority to regulate tobacco.

"If the government is going to regulate it, I think we're in trouble," said Paul Greenwood, owner of The Dragon's Breath, a tobacco shop.

By July 2010, tobacco manufacturers may no longer use the terms "light," "low" and "mild" on tobacco products. By, July 2011, warning labels for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products will become larger, occupying the top 50% of the front and rear panels of the package. Taking effect this October, fruit and candy flavored cigarettes will be banned.

"I'm sure that we'll lose some money on it," said Greenwood. "But, like all government regulations, you could expect it to do that."

"My grandfather died of lung cancer from smoking," said David Henderson, with the Smith County Democratic Party. "My father died of upper thoracic cancer from smoking. My brother died of heart disease that was complicated by smoking. So, I feel very strongly that tobacco needs to be regulated."

Chair of the Smith County Democratic Party, Henderson says the new changes will protect the youth.

"If we could stop kids from getting hooked in the first place, then that's good for us," said Henderson.

"But, people like me, who smoke cigarettes on a daily basis, it's not going to do nothing for us but make us wanna go buy more probably," said Jones.

Only time will tell.

The FDA will also create a new center for tobacco products to oversee the science-based regulation of tobacco products in the U.S.

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