Legislation to Reverse the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Receives Congressional Hearing

Bill Would Prohibit Flavored Tobacco Products; Raise Age of Sale to 21

October 16, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health is holding a hearing 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 Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), would also prohibit the online sale of all tobacco products and restrict the aggressive marketing practices of the profit-driven tobacco industry.

The hearing comes amid an ongoing epidemic of youth use of tobacco products, driven primarily by e-cigarettes. Preliminary 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 Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“We applaud Chairman Pallone and Congresswoman Shalala for introducing comprehensive legislation to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our youth and appreciate subcommittee Chairwoman Eshoo holding a hearing today. The importance of removing flavored tobacco products from the marketplace cannot be understated.

“It is well-documented that the tobacco industry uses flavored products to target youth and we know menthol cigarettes have seriously harmed public health for decades. More than 80% of teens who report using tobacco products start with a flavored product and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly concluded that menthol cigarettes increase smoking initiation and dependence while decreasing cessation success.

“Additionally, provisions included in the bill to extend cigarette marketing and advertising restrictions to e-cigarettes, coupled with raising the minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21, would reduce tobacco initiation and save lives.

“ACS CAN strongly supports the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 and looks forward to working with lawmakers on a bipartisan basis to advance this bill.”


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