One in every five adults in America smokes cigarettes, but now there are major changes in store for big tobacco and how the industry is regulated.
Lawmakers passed a measure that will impact how tobacco is marketed and sold.
President Obama, who has admitted struggling with smoking himself, signed the bill into law Monday.
Not long ago, cigarette smoking was seen as a sign of status and sophistication. But anti-smoking campaigns raised awareness of the harmful effects and reversed that perception-- helping to reduce the number of smokers and make smoke-free homes and workplaces the norm.
Now add Congress's new changes in regulating tobacco, and you begin to see the concerted national effort to help americans kick the habit.
"There's a new cop on the beat and that new cop on the beat is the FDA," said Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin.
The new legislation will not ban nicotine or tobacco products all together, but the following are among the changes:
The FDA will have power to regulate tobacco products, along with their marketing and sale.
The use of flavored tobacco products popular among young smokers, along with the use of the words "light," "mild," or "low" on packaging are forbidden.
Tobacco companies will be required to list all of the contents wrapped inside cigarettes.
"Many of these products contain a lot of poisons and the consumers aren't actually aware of that," said Daniel Smith of the American Cancer Society.
The legislation was years in the making, with big tobacco companies and their supporters fighting to prevent more regulation.
"The United States Senate's made a big mistake," Sen. Richard Burr charged. "This is not in the public health interest."
But public sentiment has shifted. Anti-smoking advocates say the changes will reduce the 400,000 tobacco-related deaths each year and decrease the health care costs associated with smoking.
*Originally published June 12, 2009