Menthol Ban Bill Put to House Vote Tomorrow

NACS urges retailers to tell Congress to oppose a ban on all flavored cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco.

February 26, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The “Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019” (H.R. 2339) comes up for a floor vote tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives, and NACS advises retailers not to miss their chance to contact their legislators to ask them to vote against the bill.

Visit the NACS grassroots portal to send a message to your legislator regarding H.R. 2339.

The measure seeks to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco. 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 today.

“This proposed ban on menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco is nothing short of a stimulus package for the black market,” said Lyle Beckwith, NACS senior vice president for government relations. “While passage is unlikely in the Senate this year, this legislation sets a bad precedent for future legislative actions. Retailers must act now to stop this legislation in the House.”

NACS believes a flavor ban on traditional tobacco products would lead to a black market for these products, with illegal sellers distributing banned products to customers of any age. A growing black market for flavored tobacco products also raises health concerns. Banning menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored smokeless tobacco products will eliminate the important public health safeguards set by the Food and Drug Administration.

The bill is sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.). The bill is likely to pass the House, but it’s unclear if the Republican-controlled Senate will bring it to a vote, the Hill reports.

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).