Pallone To Introduce A Bill That Targets Youth Tobacco Use

Apr 16, 2019

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone says tobacco companies target kids with flavors and appealing advertising.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone plans to introduce legislation that proposes changes to regulations on tobacco products.

The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco.

“No menthol no flavors, alright.  For everything,” he said.

It would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco across every state.

“New Jersey already raised the smoking age to 21 but this will bring up the rest of the country.”

The bill would direct the FDA to prohibit non face to face sales of all tobacco products.

“They can be sold in machines; they can be sold all over the internet.  This says you can’t do that,” Pallone said.

Pallone’s bill would crack down on tobacco advertisements that appear to market products to people under the age of 21.  If the bill became law, all cigarette packs would require graphic health warnings.

“Right now, you see the warning on the cigarette package, it’s harmful to your health.  But in most other countries, particularly in Europe, they use these graphic photos or pictures that show you what your lung looks like or what you’re going to look like if you become addicted to cigarettes,” Pallone said.

Advocates say flavored tobacco promotes the products to youth.  Recent reports from the FDA and CDC show a spike in e-cigarette use by middle school and high school students. 

“Targeted marketing using images that appeal to kids and products that come in flavors in a form that are highly appealing to children,” said Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“In predominantly black communities, menthol products are more heavily advertised,” said Delmonte Jefferson, Executive Director of the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network. He says the industry uses predatory marketing to create health disparities.

“To add insult to injury, menthol cigarettes are cheaper in black communities,” he said. 

Congressman Pallone plans to introduce the legislation in the House next week.