WASHINGTON—The House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday advanced H.R. 2339, the “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019,” by a vote of 28 to 24 to the full House for consideration.
The legislation would prohibit flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, ban all non-face-to-face sales for tobacco products and make it unlawful to market tobacco products to individuals younger than age 21.
The bill is sponsored by Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.).
In opening statements before the Committee, Chairman Pallone said, “Congressional action is even more critical now after the President’s retreat from his promise to prohibit flavors in tobacco products that are so popular with our youth. ... We must advance this legislation in order to prevent losing another generation to tobacco-related illnesses and premature death.”
House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) said, “I fear this legislation will inadvertently contribute to a growing illicit market and those with nicotine addictions—both adults and children—will turn to more dangerous, unregulated products.”
NACS opposes the provision of the bill banning menthol cigarettes because it would undoubtedly lead to the creation of a black market, since the menthol market accounts for roughly 30% of cigarette sales today.