House Agriculture Spending Bill Provisions Could Jeopardize Efforts to Reduce Tobacco-Related Cancers and Save Lives

Provisions Would Prevent FDA from Eliminating Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars and Limiting Nicotine in Cigarettes to Minimally or Non-addictive Levels

May 18, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 18, 2023 – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other related agencies for Fiscal Year 2024. The bill includes several provisions that would keep the FDA from fulfilling its duty to protect public health and threaten its efforts to combat the harmful impacts of tobacco. Specifically, these provisions would prevent the FDA from moving ahead with finalizing proposed rules to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars in the marketplace, as well as prevent the agency from proposing a rule to set a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes and certain tobacco products to levels that are not addictive.

Ahead of today’s vote, the following is a statement from Lisa A. Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“Just last year, the FDA took critical steps forward to address the devastating health effects of tobacco by releasing proposed rules to eliminate menthol flavoring in cigarettes and all flavors in cigars. The agency also announced plans for a proposed rule to set a maximum level of nicotine in cigarettes and certain tobacco products to an amount that would reduce addiction. Passage of provisions to reverse this progress in the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration bill would amount to a major setback in the fight to reduce suffering and death from tobacco-related illnesses, including cancer.

“These provisions would only serve to give Big Tobacco more leeway to continue aggressive marketing tactics designed to addict new users to the industry’s deadly products, including youth, people with limited income, LGBTQ+ individuals and Black people, who consistently report the highest prevalence of menthol cigarette use. 

“Eliminating menthol in cigarettes and all flavors in all cigars will reduce youth initiation, support successful quitting, and reduce health disparities caused by these products. Lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes to amounts where it can no longer addict new users or keep those who smoke cigarettes hooked can also help reduce cancer incidence and deaths. Tobacco use continues to be the number one preventable cause of cancer in the U.S. and is responsible for 480,000 deaths each year, including at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths.

”Lives are on the line. We urge members of the Subcommittee to oppose these harmful provisions and allow the FDA to do its job to protect public health and save lives.”

Media Contacts

Trista Hargrove
Director, Media Advocacy - Health Equity
Alissa Crispino
Senior Vice President, Advocacy Communications & Policy