tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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New era of U.S. tobacco regulation at hand

In a historic shift in public health policy almost half a century after the U.S. surgeon general first warned of the lethal dangers of smoking, Congress is poised to give the federal government sweeping new authority to regulate the manufacturing of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The legislation, long resisted by the tobacco industry, could allow consumers to see for the first time what chemicals and other additives tobacco companies put in their products. It would empower the Food and Drug Administration to put new limits on harmful ingredients and prohibit tobacco companies from marketing “light” cigarettes.

And it would give the FDA new authority to enlarge warning labels and severely restrict full-color ads for cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Yet the victory, which eluded anti-tobacco advocates for decades, comes with challenges as well as promise, as federal officials are given never-before-used tools to control a product that is still linked to some 400,000 deaths every year in the United States.

Particularly tricky may be keeping up the momentum of the anti-smoking campaign even as regulators try to make cigarettes safer, an effort that could paradoxically make some smokers less inclined to quit.

“We just don’t know what is going to happen,” said Kenneth E. Warner, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health who has studied tobacco use for decades. “This is uncharted territory.” Nonetheless, the legislation - which has passed the House and is expected to clear the Senate in coming weeks - would effectively end an era in which the tobacco industry was largely exempt from the regulatory scrutiny that has been standard for food, drugs and other consumer products.

The bill culminates a decades-long campaign by advocates who have chipped away at the industry’s power with taxes, multibillion-dollar lawsuits and state and local limits on where smoking is allowed.

“This would be the most significant change in the federal government’s approach to tobacco in history,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a leading national advocate of tougher tobacco regulation. “It would fundamentally change the way tobacco is marketed, advertised and sold in this country.” In recent years, dozens of states and cities have passed “clean-air” regulations banning smoking in government buildings, bars, restaurants and other public places. Earlier this year, Congress passed the largest-ever increase in the federal cigarette tax, boosting it by 62 cents to $1.01 a pack to pay for an expansion in children’s health insurance.

Today, an estimated 20 percent of adults in the U.S. smoke, down from 42 percent in 1965, a year after the surgeon general’s office issued its first warning.

But the industry has repeatedly dodged more stringent limits, including basic regulation of what is in tobacco products. Tobacco companies went to court in the late 1990s to block a Clinton administration bid for FDA authority over tobacco.

“If you look at a box of macaroni and cheese, you can see what kind of dye has been used. All the ingredients are scrutinized to determine whether they are dangerous to consumers’ health,” said Gregg Haifley, a senior lobbyist for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“Not so tobacco. It has remained virtually the only unregulated consumable product in America.” Public health advocates say that has allowed companies to advertise “light” and “mild” cigarettes as safer alternatives when, in fact, the products contain harmful additives and induce many users to intensify their smoking.

Under the legislation moving through Congress - sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman of California and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats - the FDA would have the power to prohibit such claims.

The agency also would be able to ban most flavorings in tobacco products and place limits on addictive nicotine as well as other ingredients and byproducts generated when tobacco products are smoked.

Manufacturers would not be able to introduce new products unless they are reviewed by the agency and would face new regulations requiring their outdoor advertising and advertising in most retail locations be limited to black and white. Businesses catering only to adults, such as bars, would be exempted.

And the FDA would have the authority to require new warning labels on up to 50 percent of the front and rear panels of tobacco product packaging.

The bills do not permit an all-out ban on nicotine. They also exempt menthol from the flavoring ban.

Lawmakers made additional concessions to the industry by requiring the FDA to consider the economic impact of any new restrictions and giving tobacco companies nonvoting representation on a new scientific advisory panel.

Those compromises are not insubstantial, said Stanton Glantz, a longtime tobacco control advocate who heads the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Regulation at the University of California, San Francisco. “One thing one learns from dealing with tobacco companies is that the devil is in the details.”

Glantz is among a handful of public health advocates who fear that tobacco companies will end up gaming the regulatory process to enhance the reputation of their products.

Altria - the parent company of industry leader Philip Morris, which might have an easier time maintaining dominance in a more regulated market - endorses the bill.

“Our goal, under the federal regulation, would be to design the best products we can for someone who wants to enjoy tobacco without the health risks,” said company spokesman William Phelps. Other manufacturers oppose the legislation.

Several Republican lawmakers have also expressed concerns that tobacco products will be perceived as safer because they are regulated by the FDA.

There is some risk that could decrease smokers’ motivation to quit, said Dorothy Hatsukami, associate director of cancer prevention and control at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center. “We have to make sure that we are continuing to educate the public to let them know that even if these products have reduced toxicants, they are still harmful.”

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