A bipartisan group of federal senators have reintroduced a bill in Congress that would force e-cigarette manufacturers to pay user fees to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a bid to fund the federal agency.
Under the terms of the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, the money collected by the FDA would be used to fund public education campaigns on youth e-cigarette use and prevention, conduct safety reviews of vaping products, and carry out other oversight of the industry.
It calls for the federal agency to include e-cigarettes in the FDA’s user fee scheme proportional to its share of the overall tobacco market, according to the office of senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) (pictured), the primary sponsor of Bill S.2445.
With the introduction of this new system, the sponsors forecast that the amount coming from user fees on tobacco products collected by the FDA could be increased by $100m in the fiscal year 2022.
Shaheen said the bill, which has the support of the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, is a response to a youth vaping crisis. She said the measure responds by “holding these companies accountable and closing a loophole that allowed them to avoid paying fees to the FDA to help fund the agency’s crackdown on youth vaping”.
“There’s no excuse not to act – we must stop this exploitation of kids and teens before another generation falls victim to the nicotine addiction epidemic.”
The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. There is not yet a date for a hearing or discussion of this bill.
Two members of the committee are co-sponsors of the bill: senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). Other co-sponsors include long-time vapour industry critic senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).
In the House of Representatives, Bill H.R. 4629 is sponsored by representative Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) – a former member of the chamber’s Democratic leadership team – and representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The bill has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, although neither House sponsor is a member of the committee.
“When it comes to youth vaping, we must fight for our children’s future and that’s why I’m proud to join this bicameral, bipartisan group of lawmakers to help the FDA enforce the law, educate the public and regulate vaping companies,” Bustos said in a statement.
What This Means: The same lawmakers introduced nearly identical legislation in 2020, but the measures never received a hearing in Congress.
It is unclear what the next steps are for the bill. Lawmakers may simply be too busy this year to turn much attention to it, as president Joe Biden and lawmakers remain tied up negotiating a sweeping infrastructure bill and the Covid-19 crisis continues to demand large amounts of time and attention — particularly for lawmakers on the Congressional health committees.
– Daniel Newhauser ECigIntelligence US correspondent
Photo: Gage Skidmore