Details, Details

Chewing over the fine print in the tobacco settlement

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: It took 30 years for anti-smoking activists to strike a deal with big tobacco, but less than a day for people to start picking it apart. Criticism of the landmark settlement -- in which tobacco companies will pay out $368.5 billion over the next 25 years, strictly limit advertising, and agree to FDA regulation -- began even before a group of state attorneys general announced the deal last Friday afternoon. The American Lung Association expressed doubts that the deal would really curtail tobacco's ability to target children, and strongly urged negotiators not to accept it. And as the specifics of the settlement emerged over the weekend, the skepticism grew. Former FDA head David Kessler demanded changes and said that the terms of the 70-page deal sets too strict limits on the government's ability to curb nicotine. "There are a lot of hurdles for the FDA, some impossible burdens," Kessler said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "This seems to be a step backward." Congressmen, who have to pass legislation to make the proposed settlement law, are also picking at the terms. "We need to toughen this deal," said Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden Monday on ABC's Good Morning America. "There's going to be some major rewriting on this agreement."