House Appropriations Bill Includes… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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House Appropriations Bill Includes Provisions Benefiting Big Tobacco at the Expense of Kids and Lives

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 11, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House appropriations bill to fund the Department of Agriculture, FDA and other agencies, which will be marked up in subcommittee this evening, includes extremely harmful provisions that would effectively block the FDA from advancing lifesaving rules to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes until the FDA takes a series of unrelated actions on e-cigarettes.

These special interest provisions are a gift to the tobacco industry and must be rejected by Congress. These provisions would irresponsibly block important measures to save lives from the leading cause of preventable death, resulting in more kids addicted to tobacco and more lives lost, especially Black lives. Members of Congress face a clear choice: Will they act to protect America’s kids and save lives, or will they side with the tobacco industry and protect its ability to continue profiting from the sale of deadly and addictive products?

While we agree that the large number of unauthorized e-cigarettes on the market is a serious concern, the FDA can and should address that problem AND move forward with critical regulations to reduce use of cigarettes, the most lethal tobacco product. This should not be an either/or situation. Congress should not be blocking or delaying FDA rules that would save countless lives.

The evidence is clear that prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars will greatly benefit our nation’s health, especially among Black Americans who have been targeted by the tobacco industry for decades with predatory marketing for these products. The evidence shows that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Researchers estimate that prohibiting menthol cigarettes would save up to 654,000 lives in the coming decades, including the lives of 255,000 Black Americans.

Limiting nicotine in cigarettes (and other smoked tobacco products) to non-addictive or minimally addictive levels would also have huge health benefits. The FDA has estimated that such a policy would prevent over 33 million youth and young adults from becoming regular smokers this century, prompt 5 million smokers to quit within one year (rising to 13 million within 5 years) and save more than 8 million lives by the end of this century.

Tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing nearly half a million Americans and costing the nation over $241 billion in health care bills each year. The FDA’s proposals would go a long way toward ending tobacco’s devastating toll. It is unconscionable that any member of Congress would turn their back on these enormous benefits and protect the interests of Big Tobacco.