Shaheen, Murkowski Lead Bipartisan Bill to Hold E-Cigarette Companies Accountable for the Youth Vaping Crisis
This week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect children from the dangers of e-cigarettes. The Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act would require that e-cigarette manufacturers pay user fees to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help to fund more activity at FDA to conduct stronger oversight of the e-cigarette industry and increase awareness for the danger of e-cigarettes. Companion legislation will be introduced in the House by Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL17).
“Teachers and parents are overwhelmed by the youth vaping crisis—a crisis that’s the result of e-cigarette manufacturers marketing their products directly to young people. These companies should be on the hook for the funding to respond to this crisis,” said Senator Shaheen. “Teachers and parents shouldn’t have to fight this fight alone. In New Hampshire, our high school students are using e-cigarettes more than their peers in every other state in the nation. This legislation gives FDA the authority and resources the agency needs to hold e-cigarette companies accountable, crack down on e-cigarette sales to minors and raise awareness among youth about the dangers of vaping. Congress and the Trump administration need to act to address this crisis and passing this legislation would be a major step forward.”
“Data from 2019 indicates that more than 1 in 4 high school students have used e-cigarettes. I continue to work with my colleagues to take flavored products that are designed for no other purpose than to attract kids, off the market, but our efforts cannot stop there. As we face a growing epidemic of youth vaping, it is crucial to ensure that our agencies have the necessary resources to ensure that another generation of Americans do not become addicted to nicotine,” said Senator Murkowski. “This bill will create a more even regulatory playing field by expanding the existing FDA authority to collect user fees on traditional tobacco producers to include e-cigarette producers— a significant and increasing share of the tobacco marketplace.”
“The youth vaping epidemic has now hooked five million kids—an increase of 135 percent over the past two years of the Trump Administration,” said Senator Durbin. “This bill would impose a new user fee on e-cigarette companies, so that the FDA would have the resources it needs to better review and regulate these addictive products. In order to protect an entire generation of children from nicotine addition, we must act now.”
“The FDA currently assesses and collects user fees from manufacturers and importers of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, but electronic nicotine devices are not subject to the same fees,” said Senator Romney. “By granting the FDA the authorization to collect user fees on e-cigarettes, our legislation builds on the positive work done so far to tackle the vaping crisis and protect our kids’ health in Utah and across the country.”
“The rise of teen vaping is an epidemic and we must take action to protect children from the dangers of e-cigarettes and prevent them from using harmful tobacco products,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation is an important step forward to fund stronger oversight of the e-cigarette industry and increase our prevention and youth awareness efforts.”
“The dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes by our young people is threatening the progress we have made to reduce overall tobacco use. Teachers have talked with me about the growing epidemic of vaping in high schools and middle schools in Maine,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation would impose fees on e-cigarette manufacturers similar to fees for other tobacco products, which could be used to support youth education and prevention initiatives as well as greater enforcement activities such as age restrictions, marketing to children, and illegal products.”
“The American Lung Association applauds Senators Shaheen and Murkowski for their leadership in ensuring the Food and Drug Administration has sufficient resources moving forward to complete its vital work in protecting our nation from all tobacco products,” said Deborah P. Brown, Chief Mission Officer of the American Lung Association. “The youth e-cigarette epidemic is commanding a significant portion of FDA’s energies and the e-cigarette industry should pay its fair share of user fees.”
In recent years, the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products, such as JUUL, has skyrocketed, particularly among teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that:
- E-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5 percent of students in 2011 to 27.5 percent of students in 2019.
- E-cigarette use among middle school students also grew, from 0.6 percent of students in 2011 to 10.5 percent of students in 2019.
- The availability of flavored e-cigarettes, and easily-concealable vaping products, like JUUL, have made e-cigarettes more popular among youth.
The Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act increases the total amount that will be collected in tobacco user fees by $100 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and indexes that amount to inflation for future years. Critically, the bill also authorizes FDA to collect user fees from all manufacturers of products that have been deemed as tobacco products by FDA, including e-cigarettes. Currently, manufacturers of traditional combustible tobacco products pay into FDA user fees, but e-cigarette companies are exempt due to a loophole in the law. The amount collected from individual e-cigarette manufacturers will be proportional to their share of the overall tobacco market, as determined by FDA. This approach is consistent with the Trump administration’s e-cigarette user fee proposal included in the FY 2020 Budget. FDA would be able to use this additional revenue from e-cigarette user fees to conduct safety review of vaping products, prevent sales of e-cigarettes to minors, help support efforts to educate youth on the dangers of e-cigarettes and increase the agency’s oversight capabilities.
Senator Murkowski’s Previous Efforts:
- In October of 2018, Senator Murkowski, alongside Senator Durbin, urged the FDA to immediately ban kid-friendly e-cigarette flavorings and restrict online sales of the addictive nicotine products.
- In March 2019, Senator Murkowski and Senator Durbin introduced the SAFE Kids Act, legislation that would place strong restrictions on e-cigarette flavorings. The bill places strict limitations on the use of flavors in tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars, in an effort to reverse the marketing tactics that make tobacco products more appealing for kids.
- In September 2019, Senator Murkowski sent a letter to the FDA, with Senators Durbin, Merkley, and Blumenthal, urging the agency to immediately remove all pod- and cartridge based e-cigarettes from the market until they can be proven to be safe.
- In September 2019, Senator Murkowski cosponsored the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, sponsored by Senators Cornyn and Feinstein. The bill would make it clear that online sales of e-cigarettes must abide by all age verification requirements that store sales adhere to.
- In September 2019, Murkowski introduced the E-Cigarette Device Standards Act of 2019, with Senators Merkley, Durbin, Blumenthal, and Shaheen to improve the safety standards in the design of e-cigarette and vaping devices, to prevent tampering with devices.
- In November 2019, Murkowski joined her colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for a hearing to examine the federal response to lung illnesses and rising electronic cigarette e-cigarette use among youth.