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Obama signs tobacco bill

world Updated: Jun 23, 2009 02:29 IST

IANS
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US President Barack Obama Monday signed legislation that forces new restrictions on US tobacco companies and gives the government broad new powers to regulate the industry.

Obama said the law, which was passed by both houses of Congress earlier this month, "represents change that's been decades in the making".

The new law bans fruit or sweet-flavoured cigarettes criticised for targeting children and bans label claims of "light" or "ultra-light" cigarettes, which anti-smoking advocates argue are no less harmful to one's health. The size of warning labels will also be increased.

The bill for the first time gives a federal regulator, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), broad authority over tobacco companies. It was welcomed by health advocates and even some major tobacco companies, but may also be challenged in US courts.

"The decades-long effort to protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco have been victorious," said Obama, who has struggled to quit smoking himself.