Big government gets new power over big tobacco

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Kelly Hefelfinger - email

The Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act is now headed to the president's desk. The bill, passed Friday in the House, would give the FDA power over tobacco products to keep them out of the hands of kids. The yeas have it, but that's not stopping the nays from having their say.

TYLER, TX (KLTV ) - On Friday, big government took a big stand.

"I look forward to signing it," said President Obama outside the White House, moments after the bill was approved by the House.

Anthony Rivera said the bill is unnecessary. He manages The Dragon's Breath in Tyler.  The store sells tobacco and tobacco products. Colorful hookahs, fragrant foreign tobacco, and flavorful tobacco papers fill the shelves.

"If kids see it on MTV, it's going to be appealing to them," he said. "We don't allow them in, so they can't see our colorful designs or packaging."

Flavored cigarettes will be banned under the new law, along with "light" from cigarette packs.

Brenda Elrod, deputy director of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, said the idea is to be able to control the advertising to make it more truthful. "So people know what they're getting into," she said.

Especially young people. Elrod helped organize East Texas' Tobacco Free Kids Day, last year.

"Nicotine is a drug; it is addictive. Kids can become addicted before they even know what they're getting into, so it's crucial that they not start in the first place," said Elrod.

"It's just going to get harder and harder for people who are law abiding citizens to enjoy tobacco," said Rivera.

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