House Passes Bill to Address Youth Vaping Epidemic

February 28, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) voted in favor of H.R. 2339, the Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. The bill, which passed the House 213-195, includes a ban on the manufacturing and sale of flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco. Also included in the bill is a measure from Dr. Ruiz’s No VAPE Act, which would require harsher penalties on retailers who sell tobacco and vaping products to anyone under the age of 21.

“As a doctor, I am all too familiar with the devastation that addiction to nicotine can cause,” Dr. Ruiz said today speaking at a press conference on the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act. “This bill takes a comprehensive, science- and medicine-backed approach to address this epidemic and prevent an entirely new generation from a life of nicotine addiction.”

You can watch Dr. Ruiz’s remarks here.

Background

In recent years, tobacco companies have significantly stepped up the introduction and marketing of flavored tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, with more than 15,000 flavors now available on the market.

E-cigarettes have very high levels of nicotine, placing young people at significant risk for developing nicotine addiction.  It has been found that one pod (an e-cigarette cartridge) can contain as much nicotine as a full pack of traditional cigarettes.

The bill has numerous key provisions, including the following:

  • Increases penalties on retailers who sell to people under 21 years of age, based on provisions in Dr. Ruiz’s No VAPE Act.
  • Prohibits the manufacture and sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, within one year, and removes all flavored e-cigarettes from the market within 30 days.  97 percent of youth using e-cigarettes use flavored e-cigarettes.  
  • Prohibits companies from marketing or promoting e-cigarettes to youth under age 21.  We know that the vaping industry has targeted kids through social media advertisements, glossy marketing campaigns, and other kid-friendly platforms.  About 95 percent of adult smokers start before age 21 and young people who do not begin smoking by their early 20s are unlikely to ever start.
  • Directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit non-face-to-face (online) sales of most tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, thereby blocking a key path for high schoolers to obtain tobacco products, many of which are sold online with limited or no age verification requirements.
  • Requires the Federal Trade Commission to issue an annual report to Congress on the domestic sales, advertising, and promotional activities of cigarette, cigar, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarette manufacturers. 

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