Trump Administration opposes bill that would ban all menthol, flavored tobacco products

National News

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WROC) — The Executive Office of the President said in a statement Thursday that the Administration opposes H.R. 2339, or the ‘Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019’ bill.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) introduced the legislation last April with 126 cosponsors. The bill was reported the the House of Representatives on Feb. 26, 2020.

H.R. 2339 aims to reduce youth tobacco use, but the Administration says it restricts access to a less harmful alternative to cigarettes to millions of Americans.

Among other requirements, the bill would

  • prohibit the use of flavored liquids in a vaping device
  • prohibit the use of any flavored tobacco product
  • require the FDA to apply regulations on tobacco products including e-cigarettes
  • prohibit the online sale of tobacco products including e-cigarettes
  • outreach to medically underserved communities

You can read the rest of the bill’s requirements here.

The Administration said in a statement:

The Administration cannot support H.R. 2339’s counterproductive efforts to restrict access to products that may provide a less harmful alternative to millions of adults who smoke combustible cigarettes. This includes the bill’s prohibition of menthol e-liquids, which available evidence indicates are used relatively rarely by youth. It also includes the bill’s approach to remote retail sales. At this time, problems surrounding such sales should be addressed through the application of age verification technologies rather than, as this bill would do, prohibiting such sales entirely.

— Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget

H.R. 2339 would also prohibit marketing and advertising that appeals to individuals under 21 years of age. The Administration says this ‘doesn’t satisfy the stringent vagueness test applied to regulations of speech under the Constitution’s Due Process Clause.’

Although the Administration has made it clear that it opposes this bill without provisions, it ensures that it is actively committed to protecting the youth from the harms of tobacco.

This includes raising the national legal age to buy tobacco products to 21, surveillance of tobacco advertising online, and prioritizing enforcement measures against unauthorized marketing of e-cigarette products to youth.

The Administration suggests that Congress should implement President Trump’s Budget proposal to create an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that would focus on tobacco regulation.

Ken Gregory, who operates over a dozen vape shops in the Rochester region says, “President Trump has taken the time to understand the potential for harm reduction and the best options to restrict access to those underage. We fully support his plan for the creation of a new agency to regulate tobacco and vaping and specific guidelines to minimize the unregulated black market.”

If the bill is presented as is, the Administration says President Trump’s senior advisers will recommend that he vetoes it.

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