After 20 years of wrangling, the strong bipartisan approval in Congress for federal regulation of tobacco was almost anticlimactic.
At long last, consumers of cigarettes will have some of the same minimal protections as consumers of every other ingestible product — such as labels that tell exactly what's in a cigarette and protection from false industry claims about the relative safety of tobacco products.
Both Kentucky's Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning were on the losing side as the Senate voted 79-17 in favor of tobacco regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.
McConnell has been consistent in his opposition to regulation, to the point of hurting Kentucky growers.
McConnell helped kill two tobacco-quota buyouts that would have put more money into the pockets of landowners and farmers than what they eventually got. McConnell helped kill the more generous buyouts because they were linked to FDA regulation.
McConnell's opposition over the years didn't just cost growers money, though. It also cost lives by delaying the advent of the protections that were signed into law last week.
For this latest debate, Bunning dusted off 15-year-old talking points.
"As a grandfather of 39 grandchildren, believe me I want to keep cigarettes out of the hands of kids. But the bill before us today does not do that. It is nothing more than an attempt to eliminate our national tobacco industry."
Bunning's almost certainly wrong on that last point. The bill became law with the backing of Altria, parent company of tobacco industry giant Phillip Morris.
Phillip Morris would not have been lobbying for anything that will kill the tobacco industry.
Bunning was also wrong when he went on and on about how FDA regulation will hurt farmers.
If anything, U.S. farmers will gain a competitive advantage because cheaper tobacco from overseas will now have to satisfy the same pesticide restrictions as U.S. leaf.
Also, FDA regulation could create a market for legitimate reduced-harm tobacco products that would favor domestic growers.
The new law gives the FDA power to block the sale of new products that would cause more harm, such as candy-flavored cigarettes, and to order changes in tobacco products to make them less harmful.
Tobacco manufacturers will pay a fee to cover the costs of the FDA's new responsibilities.
While it's hard to be thrilled about a tobacco-control measure supported by Phillip Morris, the new law will help reduce smoking's toll on health and human life.
Republican Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming captured the spirit of the moment when he said "smoking killed my dad and my mom and my mother-in-law, and secondhand smoking conclusively affected me.
"So this isn't political. This is about the health of all Americans."