Schakowsky Votes For Comprehensive Bill To End The Youth Tobacco Epidemic

February 28, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, voted in favor of H.R. 2339, the Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020, which passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 213-195.

“We need to take action to end the youth tobacco epidemic before it claims any more lives. Prohibiting flavors that appeal to kids across all tobacco products is the most important step Congress can take to ensure that more youth do not get addicted to nicotine and tobacco,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “In addition to fruity flavors, menthol plays a significant role in hooking kids to cigarettes by cooling and numbing the throat. While Big Tobacco is trying to divert our attention from that by raising criminal justice concerns, we have gone above and beyond to protect against those issues in this bill. It does so by clarifying that any individual who purchases, possesses, or consumes a prohibited flavored tobacco product will not be subject to criminal penalties, stops, searches, or any other investigative measures for that infraction. Let’s keep our focus on defeating this public health crisis.”

The Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020 includes a number of important provisions to curb the alarming rise of youth tobacco use:

  • 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. 
  • The tobacco 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.
  • Closes a tax loophole for e-cigarettes by establishing tax parity with current tobacco taxes, which is a highly effective way to reduce youth smoking.
  • Provides FDA with the authority to collect user fees from all classes of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and increases the annual user fees collected for tobacco products by $100 million.
  • Invests in grants for outreach and education for evidence-based smoking cessation programs for individuals in medically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minorities.
  • Awards grants to make tobacco cessation therapies and counseling available at Community Health Centers.

The bill also includes two important health coverage provisions related to tobacco use. It waives Medicare’s coinsurance for colorectal cancer screening tests, regardless of whether that screening resulted in the removal of a polyp. It also allows high-deductible health plans to offer coverage of inhalers and nebulizer treatment of chronic lung disease, below the deductible.