Monday, December 16, 2019

Backing Off Tobacco

Congress has to be dragged kicking and screaming across the finish line to do anything remotely useful and bipartisan, and there's a reason why the institution of the US legislative branch has an approval rating somewhere around gonorrhea, but every now and then they accidentally get stuff done to create political cover from even tougher issues, and raising the age nationally to purchase tobacco products to 21 is one of those things.

Congress is on the verge of a sweeping health care reform: Federally prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to people under 21.

The legislation significantly raising the age cap on cigarettes and e-cigarettes is increasingly likely to be included in the year-end spending deal, the result of support from a diverse coalition of lawmakers, according to four people familiar with the matter. While the deal has not been finalized, it is more than likely to be in the package, according to sources in both parties.

The effort has the support of Democrats like Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Tim Kaine of Virginia as well as Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); on the Republican side Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supports it as does National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

The legislation had been included in a larger package of measures intended to reduce the cost of emergency medical bills. But that legislation has been bogged down in a partisan fight and the broadly popular tobacco legislation will probably be spared from the gridlock.

The rise of vaping products to hook a new generation of kids on tobacco isn't an accident, and the tobacco industry went nuts when Trump wanted to ban flavored vaping juice to minors anyway (I still absolutely believe young master Barron Trump got caught with some) so this is Congress stepping in and getting it done. 

I've counted at least four vape shops in my neighborhood popping up in the last couple of years, and any time any industry like that has growth of that magnitude, Uncle Sam is going to want to regulate it.

Of course, there's also the bonus of positive health outcomes and saving taxpayers billions in treatment costs for tobacco-related illnesses.  Gotta call that a win.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails