Federal Regulation of Tobacco
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On June 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comprehensive authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of tobacco products. The new law represents the most sweeping action taken to date to reduce what remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Before enactment of the new law, tobacco products were largely exempt from regulation under the nation’s federal health and safety laws, including the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA has regulated food, drugs and cosmetics for many decades, but not tobacco products, except in those rare circumstances when manufacturers made explicit health claims.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act adds a new Chapter IX to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, establishing and governing the regulation of tobacco products. A new Center for Tobacco Products has been created within the FDA to establish tobacco product standards, among other things. Chapter IX vests the FDA with jurisdiction to regulate both current and new tobacco products and restrict tobacco product marketing, while also directly implementing provisions that will, among other things, restrict tobacco product marketing and advertising, strengthen cigarette and smokeless tobacco warning labels, reduce federal preemption of certain state cigarette advertising restrictions, and increase nationwide efforts to block tobacco product sales to youth.
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After the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed in 2009, the Public Health Law Center prepared an initial series of fact sheets and additional materials to address legal issues raised by the new legislation and to help state and local advocates and policymakers take full advantage of the new opportunities it created.