Bill would raise tobacco purchase age to 21, prohibit most flavored tobacco products, and restrict e-cigarette advertising
Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced legislation on Tuesday that aims to address the skyrocketing rates of youth use of tobacco products, a trend that has been largely driven by the popularity of flavored e-cigarettes.
Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 would raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years, prohibit flavoring of almost all tobacco products, restrict advertising of newly deemed tobacco products like e-cigarettes and grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to collect user fees from all tobacco product manufacturers. Additionally, the bill would compel the FDA to finalize and enact a rule requiring graphic warning labels be placed on tobacco products, a proven deterrent to tobacco initiation and continued use.
Introduction of the legislation comes at a time of unprecedented youth use of tobacco products. According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of youths using tobacco products rose by 1.3 million children, from 3.6 million in 2017 to 4.9 million in 2018. The alarming spike in youth tobacco product use drove former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and the U.S. Surgeon General to label the problem as an epidemic.
The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):
"The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 contains provisions that would put critical safeguards in place to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our children. The bill would also include necessary and appropriate scrutiny of the advertising and marketing practices of the profit-driven tobacco industry and its allies. Chairman Pallone is a steadfast champion of public policy solutions that aim to improve the public health of our nation and we applaud him for bringing forward legislation that would better protect our kids from the dangers of tobacco use.
"In the last year, rates of e-cigarette use among youth have increased by more than 78%. The time for action is now and ACS CAN will advocate for timely consideration and passage of Chairman Pallone's bill in both chambers of Congress. ACS CAN will also continue to urge the FDA to use its full regulatory authority over all tobacco products and conduct premarket review of e-cigarettes and cigars.
"The public health risks associated with allowing the current status quo of youth use of tobacco products to continue are simply unacceptable and will become a major burden on the health of our nation for years to come if left unaddressed."