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Court To Make FDA-Tobacco Decision

April 26, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether the Food and Drug Administration can crack down on cigarette sales to minors.

The court will hear a Clinton administration appeal in which government lawyers say FDA’s 1996 decision to start regulating tobacco as a drug was justified by new evidence that the tobacco industry intended its products to feed consumers’ nicotine habits.

``Unless this court grants review, an unparalleled opportunity to curb tobacco use by children ... will be lost,″ the government’s appeal said.

A federal appeals court ruled that Congress, not the FDA, has the authority to make the ``major policy decision″ of how to regulate cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The effect of the lower court’s ruling was to leave no FDA role in regulating tobacco products.

The FDA’s rules are part of growing efforts to curb the tobacco industry. Although Congress failed to pass a nationwide settlement last year, all 50 states have reached settlements in which tobacco companies will pay them $246 billion for the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses.

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