FDA takes control of tobacco: Is it going to grow some teeth?

This week, the House of Representatives is considering a spending bill that would increase the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) budget by 11 percent. At the same time, the embattled agency is beginning to take on a new role as the primary regulator of tobacco products.

Many legislators disagreed with the decision to place the FDA in charge of tobacco. The organization has, traditionally, regulated products that are beneficial if used properly; tobacco, on the other hand, is harmful or fatal if used as directed. Critics have argued that giving the FDA control of tobacco would, effectively, suggest that it can be consumed in a safe manner. However, according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal), the FDA's position as a "scientific organization with regulatory powers" puts it in an ideal position to handle the killer weed.