Congressional Budget Deal Protects Kids by Rejecting Tobacco Industry Giveaways

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 01, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The budget agreement reached by congressional negotiators delivers critical victories for America’s kids and health over the tobacco industry by rejecting proposals to greatly weaken FDA oversight of electronic cigarettes and cigars and slash funding for the CDC’s programs to reduce tobacco use. By rejecting these special-interest giveaways to tobacco companies, this agreement preserves the FDA’s ability to protect kids from the huge assortment of candy-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars that have flooded the market in recent years and threaten to addict a new generation. The agreement bolsters the nation’s fight against tobacco use – the No. 1 cause of preventable death.

The agreement leaves out two provisions sought by tobacco companies that would weaken FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars and help manufacturers target kids with candy-flavored products:

  • One provision would limit FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including the many sweet-flavored products that have been introduced in recent years and proven popular with kids. This agreement preserves the FDA’s ability to review these products and take action to protect our kids.
  • The second provision would completely exempt so-called “large and premium” cigars from FDA oversight, but defines such cigars so broadly that it could end up exempting, cheap, machine-made, flavored cigars that are widely used by kids.

Tobacco companies waged an all-out effort to insert these provisions in the funding bill. The New York Times has reported that Altria drafted the first of these provisions and that it was endorsed by R.J. Reynolds. Altria and Reynolds gave $500,000 and $1 million respectively to President Trump’s inauguration, and tobacco interests spent more than $4.7 million in federal lobbying in the first quarter of 2017 alone.

The budget agreement also provides $205 million for the CDC’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs, rejecting a House proposal that slashed funding to only $100 million (compared to $210 million in FY2016). The CDC will be able to continue initiatives such as the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign that has been so cost effective at helping smokers quit, as well as its assistance to state tobacco prevention programs and quitlines that help smokers trying to quit.

While this agreement is an important step forward, the tobacco industry is certain to continue its attacks on FDA and CDC efforts to reduce tobacco use – and even expand them. Legislation introduced last week by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) would repeal the FDA’s current authority to regulate electronic cigarettes and essentially allow the e-cigarette industry to regulate itself. Tobacco interests have also filed multiple lawsuits against the FDA’s 2016 rule establishing oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars. Congress and the Trump Administration must continue to reject these harmful tobacco industry efforts.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids thanks the members of Congress who fought to protect our nation’s kids and health from the tobacco industry.