The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 (HR 2339, 116th Congress) would impose additional restrictions, carried out by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in an attempt to reduce the rate of youth tobacco use. Specifically, the Act would require:
- The FDA to issue a final rule to put color, graphic warnings depicting the health consequences of smoking on cigarettes;
- The FDA to apply stricter labeling and advertising requirements to all tobacco products covered under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 387a);
- Raising the age at which entities may sell tobacco products to an individual from 18 to 21, and prohibiting any marketing of tobacco products in a way that would especially appeal to individuals under 21 years of age;
- Banning sale of any tobacco product (with the exception of some premium cigars) not done through a “direct, face-to-face exchange between a retailer and a consumer”;
- Banning tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (such as e-cigarettes, vape pens, or refillable vaporizers), containing artificial or natural flavors other than tobacco, with an exception granted to those products that are determined by the FDA to promote smoking cessation among ongoing tobacco users and found to not increase the likelihood of attracting new tobacco users;
- Increasing user fees of tobacco products;
- The FDA to issue a final rule to regulate synthetic nicotine;
- The FDA to review public awareness campaigns directed to at-risk individuals about the risks of tobacco use, and as necessary to modify them to include individuals who are between 18 and 21 years of age;
- The FDA to issue educational materials to healthcare providers, law enforcement, and members of the public regarding the FDA's new and modified authorities to regulate tobacco under this bill;
- The FTC to regulate the marketing, advertising, or promoting of e-cigarettes to those under 21 years of age, including overseeing enforcement of violations to these provisions; and
- The FTC to provide a report to Congress detailing advertising and marketing practices by manufacturers of tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes.
The bill also requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to award grants to state, local, or Tribal health departments for projects aimed at developing strategies for ceasing smoking and e-cigarette use in racial and ethnic minority communities, developing better outreach tools to those communities, and referring individuals to services intended to promote cessation of smoking and e-cigarette use.
The amended bill as approved by the House in February 2020 also incorporates provisions from HR 5022, the Nicotine Or Vaping Access Protection and Enforcement (NO VAPE) Act of 2019. As used in HR 2339, these provisions:
- Double the level of fines issued to tobacco retailers who violate regulations restricting the sale or advertising of tobacco products; and
- Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the relationship of e-cigarettes to tobacco cessation, the perception of harmful effects of e-cigarettes, and the effects of secondhand exposure to smoke from e-cigarettes.
In February 2020, as the House was voting to approve this bill, the White House issued a statement expressing the Trump administration's opposition to the bill and claiming that, should the bill as approved by the House reach the President's desk, the President's advisors would recommend he veto the bill. As of late February 2020, the bill would still need approval by the Senate before the President would decide to sign or veto the bill.