A bill that would for the first time give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the packaging, manufacturing and marketing of tobacco products heads for a vote in the Senate today where it is expected to win approval. The legislation has been welcomed by public health groups who predict it will have a positive effect by reducing the numbers of smokers and reducing the health care costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses. Under the bill the FDA would have the authority to restrict tobacco advertising, require changes in tobacco products (including ingredients) and ban the use of expressions such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“lightÃ¢â‚¬ or Ã¢â‚¬Å“mildÃ¢â‚¬ . However, as Mark Berlind, a partner at A.T. Kearney points out in a June 8 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, a little-noticed provision of the bill is that it would continue to allow consumers to sue manufacturers even if they fully comply with the FDAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s content and labeling rules. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The regulatory regime that the legislation would establish canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t protect companies from tort liability Ã¢â‚¬“ even if they rigorously follow every FDA rule,Ã¢â‚¬ Berlind writes, noting that the FDA legislation builds on the precedent recently established by the Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine. In that 6-3 opinion, the Court decided that federal approval does not preempt consumer complaints in state courts, effectively opening the floodgates to a wave of potential product liability tort suits against pharmaceutical companies at the state level.