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Obama signs historic tobacco law

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill giving the government historic powers to curb cigarette makers, declaring the move emblematic of the change he is bringing to Washington.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2009 09:13 IST

US President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill giving the government historic powers to curb cigarette makers, declaring the move emblematic of the change he is bringing to Washington.

Obama affixed his signature to the measure with a nod to his own struggles to kick the habit, and lamented the fact that 1,000 people under the age of 18 become regular smokers every day, courting a range of grave health risks.

"I know, I was one of these teenagers, and so I know how difficult it can be to break this habit when it's been with you for a long time," Obama said.

"I also know that kids today don't just start smoking for no reason -- they're aggressively targeted as customers by the tobacco industry.

"They're exposed to a constant and insidious barrage of advertising where they live, where they learn, and where they play."

The law grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a regulatory body, the authority to ban flavorings added to some tobacco products and require tough new warning labels, in a bid to lessen tobacco use among young people.

Obama argued that the bill's passage was just the latest sign that he was living up to his promise to forge fundamental political reform.