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On June 11, 2009, the Senate passed legislation that allows the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry. A similar bill was passed by the House of Representatives in April. The House of Representatives plans to vote to accept the Senate bill soon, which would send the legislation to President Obama, who has said that he looks forward to signing the bill. The Senate bill was sponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy. The bill imposes restrictions on advertising and packaging of cigarettes. Altria Group, which owns Philip Morris USA, the nation’s biggest cigarette company, stated that it has First Amendment concerns about some of the advertising regulations. Tobacco-producing states, like Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia provided most of the Senate opposition to the bill. However, the senators from another tobacco-producing state, Virginia, supported the measure. It is widely felt that the most important impact of the bill will be to prevent the marketing of tobacco products to children. Public health groups, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, praised the Senate vote, saying that it was "a truly historic victory for America’s children and health." According to the American Cancer Society, the vote "will finally put an end to Big Tobacco’s despicable marketing practices that are designed to addict children to its deadly products." Tobacco is linked to 443,000 premature deaths and 8.6 million serious illnesses each year in the U.S.

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