A bill passed today in the House would give authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, a move applauded by anti-tobacco groups like the American Heart Association.
The bill was sponsored by representative Henry Waxman, who in 1994 called the heads of big tobacco companies before a committee where they testified that nicotine was not addictive.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden was touring rural North Carolina today - tobacco country - with agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to tout the administration's economic recovery plan and proposals for expanding healthcare coverage in rural America.
Biden and Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun disbursing $10 billion in housing loans provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Federal tax increases on tobacco put into effect this week could hurt tobacco farmers, advocates said.
Tobacco manufacturing jobs pay more than twice the average salary of other private industries in North Carolina, growers and their advocates told lawmakers last week.
"The last thing North Carolina or any state needs right now is more lost jobs," North Carolina agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler told a House agriculture subcommittee.
North Carolina's tobacco crop was worth $686 million last year and the industry provided more than 10,000 jobs, according to McClatchy.