Legislation to Reverse the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Moves Forward in Congress

November 19, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup on legislation that would prohibit the sale of nearly all flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol products, and raise the minimum age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (H.R. 2339), authored by Chairman  Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), would also prohibit the online sale of  most tobacco products and restrict the aggressive marketing practices of the profit-driven tobacco industry.

The hearing comes as the epidemic of youth use of tobacco products continues to grow, driven primarily by use of e-cigarettes. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) shows e-cigarette use among high school students rose to 27.5% in 2019, up from 11.7% in 2017. Five million middle and high school students now report e-cigarette use.

The following is a statement from Keysha Brooks-Coley, vice president of federal advocacy for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“We applaud Chairman Pallone for stepping up to take action on behalf a new generation who, absent regulation, has become vulnerable to a lifetime of nicotine addiction and tobacco use. Advancing comprehensive legislation to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children is a critical step toward protecting the public’s health.

“It is disappointing that the legislation would exempt a category of cigars from some FDA regulation. While there is no public health justification to exempt any tobacco product from the full regulatory authority of the FDA, Chairman Pallone should be commended for limiting the category of cigars exempted as well as the scope of FDA regulation they would avoid.

“The health of children across the nation is on the line as the FDA has for too long failed to exert its authority and regulate all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and the administration has delayed action that would prohibit all flavored e-cigarettes. It is well-documented that the tobacco industry is skirting federal oversight and using flavored products to target youth and that must change.

“Instead of bending to the will and lobbying power of the profit-driven tobacco and e-cigarette industry, Congress has the opportunity to lead on protecting our youth and improving the health of the nation. ACS CAN strongly supports the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act and looks forward to working with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to continue to advance this bill.”


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