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On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to oppose the Stopping Consumption of Tobacco by Teens (SCOTT) Act, H.R. 2084, introduced by Rep. Rob Aderholt (R-Ala.) and the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, H.R. 2339, introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). These bills, despite their short titles, would actually make it more difficult for Americans from all backgrounds to get access to healthier alternatives to smoking.
The SCOTT Act, servilely named after former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, will do very little to actually curb e-cigarette and tobacco use amongst teens, much like the anti-vaping rule pushed by the bill’s namesake. Despite the rhetoric directed towards tobacco products, this bill also creates a bureaucratic web that will make it very difficult to purchase vaping products online. This web will impact buyers and sellers of all ages.
Numerous studies have shown that the link between vaping and tobacco use is specious at best. These same studies also show the main users of vaping products are those trying to quit smoking. Yet, H.R. 2084 would only make this more difficult. This is another example of big government politicians thinking they know what is best for the health of the American people and believing that command and control government solutions are the proper path forward. These beliefs have failed the nation each time they have been tried.
Similarly, H.R. 2339 would outright ban online sales of flavored vaping products, and ban the flavors themselves. It seems Rep. Pallone wants to make sure quitting smoking is as unpleasant as possible for whoever is brave enough to undertake that goal. This will do nothing to stop tobacco use, but will rather liquidate the market of appealing alternatives.
This bill would also require graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging. While we recognize the unquestioned danger of such products, compelled speech by the federal government is a violation of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has upheld this principle time and time again, stating that the government has no right to tell people what they must say. The Constitution does not cease to bind U.S. lawmakers merely because they are making law with regard to American businesses. The solution to cutting tobacco use is to allow for healthier alternatives to gain greater market share, not to force tobacco companies to scare their customers. Unfortunately, both of these bills come to the wrong answers.
H.R. 2339 is also an infringement on freedom of choice. It would ban all characterizing flavors of tobacco, including menthol. Such provisions go beyond mere public safety concerns and give away the true intention of the legislation: to control even the minuscule aspects of everyday life in America. Congress should have no role in determining which flavor cigarettes are acceptable.
Both bills also fail to live up to their names. They both profess to cut back on tobacco usage, yet fail to make any meaningful distinction between tobacco use and use of products meant as an alternative. Whereas traditional smoking requires the inhalation of burnt particles, which can cause tar buildup in the lungs, the vapor produced in e-cigarettes does not carry such a side effect.
Additionally, the vaping market is a more than $10 billion industry, with many retailers and small shops that sell e-juices and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). This industry will undoubtedly see a negative, possibly industry crushing impact, which could mean job losses.
Of course, the demand for these products will still exist even if Congress creates significant regulatory barriers for flavored e-juices. In addition to name brands available on the market, many vape shops across the country produce their own unique flavors, using ingredients that any user can easily purchase and develop on their own juices for their own consumption or to be sold in an underground market that Congress would essentially create.
For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to oppose the SCOTT Act, H.R. 2084, and the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, H.R. 2339.
Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks