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Federal regulators want to levy an additional $100 million in tobacco fees to fund government efforts to combat the increasing problems with teen vaping, as well as regulation of all combustible tobacco products.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement on March 11, detailing additional funding the agency seeks in the 2020 fiscal year budget. Among a number of initiatives sought in the new budget includes additional money for the fight against recent increases in tobacco use, especially among teens and young adults who frequently report using electronic cigarettes.
Gottlieb issued the statement at about the same time the Trump administration released its overall fiscal year 2020 budget (PDF) to congress, which is largely considered “dead on arrival” by most observers, who say it has no chance of passing the Democratically controlled House of Representatives.
Much of that is due to proposed cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, cuts to food stamp programs, and additional requests for the funding of a wall on the border with Mexico. But it also is projected to add $4.8 trillion to the nation’s deficit.
Gottlieb’s proposal for combating teen vaping and tobacco use actually seeks $100 million in additional fees that would be collected from the tobacco industry, as opposed to seeking increased funding from the treasury. The fees would be aimed at manufacturers and importers of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS); e-cigarettes in particular.
“The new resources will support the FDA in its continued efforts to create a modern regulatory framework for the appropriate oversight of e-cigarettes and in taking continued steps to reduce youth use of all tobacco products,” Gottlieb wrote. “One of our most important public health efforts is to continue standing up a framework to make sure we can put e-cigarettes through an appropriate series of regulatory gates, and aggressively confront youth use of these products to make sure children don’t become addicted to nicotine.”
The request comes as the FDA faces increasing outside pressure to do more to combat teen vaping, which many say has become an epidemic.
Last month, the American Lung Association gave the FDA a failing grade for not doing enough to prevent teens from using and buying e-cigarettes. Vaping is now the most popular form of tobacco youth among U.S. teens, with rates of teen use jumping by 78% from 2017 to 2018 alone.
In 2011, when the FDA first said it would regulate e-cigarettes, only 1.5 percent of teens vaped, but now more than one-third of teens use e-cigarettes.
Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics also called on the federal government to implement more stringent vaping laws across the country, and not wait another year to act.
In January, Gottlieb promised a full ban if teen vaping rates and advertising to teens did not decrease. However, last week Gottlieb announced he was resigning from the position, and it is unclear whether his predecessor will uphold that promise or the agency’s focus on teen e-cigarette use.