Philip Morris may unveil a quota buy-out proposal by the end of the year. The buy-out would be tied to federal regulation of tobacco, according to published reports.

The world's largest cigarette maker explained its support of tobacco regulation to about 80 growers in Raleigh. The company gave no specifics of a quota buy-out program at the time.

In published reports, however, growers say they're glad to be included in discussions they have been previously excluded from. Support from farmers and manufacturers would be necessary to convince Congress to pass legislation giving FDA the authority to regulate tobacco, tobacco sources say.

The meeting was part of PM's effort to garner support from growers, public health groups, retailers and others for the regulation of tobacco by the Food and Drug Administration, company spokesmen say.

In an interview previously with the Southeast Farm Press, Michael A. Farriss, PM vice president of leaf, said that the company viewed the FDA regulation proposal as a starting point for further discussion.

Farriss made it clear that PM supports regulation of cigarettes as cigarettes. In 1996, FDA said it had the jurisdiction to regulate tobacco. The Supreme Court last year ruled the agency needed congressional approval to regulate tobacco.

FDA regulation would involve cigarette advertising, warning labels and additional disclosure of ingredients. Farriss said regulation would give the manufacturers a single set of rules for doing business and add stability to the tobacco industry.