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Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 3942, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act

Washington, October 16, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a markup of H.R. 3942, the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act: 

 “H.R. 3942, the ‘Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,’ seeks to address a growing threat to the health of our young people—the use of e-cigarettes, which can be purchased by minors over the Internet, with little to no regulation.  

“This past summer, the country learned about hundreds of cases in which patients—often youthful, previously healthy adults—showed up in emergency rooms, suddenly stricken with dangerous respiratory damage.  As of the beginning of this month, 1,080 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette—or vaping—products had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

“This problem is widespread, with cases having been reported in 48 states and one U.S. territory.  At least 18 deaths linked to these products have been confirmed in 15 states. 

“As we confront the growing danger presented by e-cigarettes, we should begin by limiting access to these products by young people, who face the greatest risk from their use.  This legislation would close a loophole in the statute that regulates the ‘delivery sale’ of conventional cigarettes to minors by extending it to cover e-cigarettes as well. 

“In 2010, the ‘Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act,’ also known as the PACT Act, was signed into law.  This important legislation included a strong age-verification provision to prevent online sales of cigarettes to minors by requiring sellers to use a method of shipment that includes a signature and photo ID check upon delivery. 

“The national standard put in place by the PACT Act has ensured that the Internet is not used to evade the types of ID checks required at grocery and convenience stores where tobacco products are sold. 

“But the market for tobacco products has changed dramatically since we enacted the PACT Act, almost 10 years ago.  Since 2014, e-cigarettes have risen to become the most commonly used tobacco product among young people.  And the Surgeon General has concluded that e-cigarette use among youth and young adults is a public health concern.  Numerous studies have found that exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain.  Alarmingly, the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey found a dramatic surge in the use of e-cigarettes by youth between 2017 and 2018—a 78% increase in use among high school students and a 48% increase in use among middle school students.  This was in just one year, and its use among young people is expected to grow even further if we do not take action.  

“Data from the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health suggest that an overwhelming majority of young people who use e-cigarettes do not get them from retail establishments—many get them through the Internet.  Therefore, we must do everything we can to close the source of supply of a product that is endangering the health of our communities, and particularly the health of the children in our communities. 

“H.R. 3942 would expand the definition of the term ‘cigarette’ in the PACT Act to also include an ‘electronic nicotine delivery system.”  The bill would limit the ability of minors to obtain via the Internet not only e-cigarettes, but also e-hookahs, e-cigars, vape pens, advanced refillable personal vaporizers, electronic pipes, and components of any of these. 

“This legislation takes a first step toward curbing the use of e-cigarettes by young people, and I applaud Representative Rosa DeLauro for authoring this important legislation.  I urge all my colleagues to support H.R. 3942.”

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