Sen. Tom Coburn, who is also a medical doctor, is calling for an outright ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
"What we should be doing is banning tobacco," the Oklahoma Republican declared on the Senate floor during a debate on a tobacco regulation bill.
"Nobody up here has the courage to do that. It is a big business. There are millions of Americans who are addicted to nicotine."
The battle against tobacco use has been ongoing. Earlier this year Congress passed legislation that included an increase in the federal tax on cigarettes of more than 60 cents a pack.
Various taxes have brought the price of a pack to over $9 in New York City and to about $7 in Washington, D.C., The Hill newspaper reported.
The Senate is set to pass the Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Control Act, which would authorize the Food and Drug Administration to restrict the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products.
But that's not enough for Sen. Coburn.
"If we really want to make a difference in health and we want to eliminate dependence on tobacco, what we have to do is to stop the addiction," he said.
Coburn said instead of putting tobacco products under the authority of the FDA, it would make more sense for the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to regulate it.
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