National Consumers League

NCL commends House passage of anti-tobacco bill

March 3, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832 

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the passage by the House of Representatives of the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (H.R. 2339), legislation that aims to address youth smoking and e-cigarette crisis. NCL supports the work of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Black Women’s Health Imperative, National Medical Association, National Black Nurses Association, and the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network—among others—all of whom have helped advance this bill.  

According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, 5 million youth reported having used e-cigarettes, 1 million of which reported daily use. There has been a 78 percent increase in consumption of e-cigarettes among high school students and a 48 percent growth in consumption among middle school students. The proliferation of e-cigarettes in the marketplace has jeopardized decades of progress made by smoking cessation advocates.

For generations, tobacco companies have disproportionately targeted the African American community with advertisements for tobacco products that appear on average, 10 times more in African American neighborhoods than anywhere else. The most staggering example of this is highly addictive and harder-to-quit menthol cigarettes, which have long been marketed to the African American community. Even more concerning is that seven out of ten African American youth smokers ages 12 to 17 smoke menthol cigarettes. 

H.R. 2339 aims to revise requirements related to the safety, sale, and advertisement of tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes and similar devices. The bill will address the deceptive marketing practices deployed by e-cigarette companies that lure and entice young people with their packaging. The legislation views e-cigarettes as on par with traditional tobacco products under the law and makes it clear that selling tobacco products to children, in any modality is illegal.

“The National Consumers League applauds Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) for their leadership on this legislation,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “We urge the Senate to join in this fight to help end efforts by tobacco and e-cigarette companies to target vulnerable communities nationwide with biased marketing tactics.”

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.