ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2339, the “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019,” Thursday on the House floor. This legislation includes a provision to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco. NACS is calling on members of the convenience industry to send messages to their representatives, urging them to oppose the bill.
Based on sales data, NACS believes a flavor ban of traditional tobacco products would undoubtedly lead to the creation of a black market for these products. Today, menthol cigarettes account for roughly 30% of cigarette sales, flavored cigars account for 50% of cigar sales and flavored smokeless tobacco products account for 86% of smokeless tobacco sales in convenience stores.
Illegal sellers of flavored products will find ways to operate outside the law and distribute products to customers of any age. These flavored products will not disappear under a ban; illicit sales on the black market will replace legal sales in retail stores.
Additionally, a growing black market for flavored tobacco products will increase health concerns. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently has the authority to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. Illegal manufacturers ignore these regulations and operate outside of the law. Banning menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored smokeless tobacco products will eliminate the important public health safeguards set by the FDA.
Last November, H.R. 2339 was voted out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee by a party line vote of 28 to 24. Three Democrats voted no on the measure: G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), Yvette Clarke (NY-9) and Don McEachin (VA-4).
Visit the NACS grassroots portal to send a message to your legislator urging them to vote to consider these concerns and vote against H.R. 2339 when it comes to the House floor for a vote this week.