ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Three weeks after the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) new policy on flavored cartridge- and pod-based vapor products went into effect, federal lawmakers are considering legislation banning all flavored tobacco products.
The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2339, the "Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019," on Feb. 27. The legislation, according to NACS, includes a provision to ban all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco.
Ahead of the vote, the convenience store association is asking its members to contact their representatives to urge them to oppose the bill.
Based on sales data, NACS believes a flavor ban of traditional tobacco products would lead to the creation of a black market for these products. Today, menthol cigarettes account for roughly 30 percent of cigarette sales, flavored cigars account for 50 percent of cigar sales and flavored smokeless tobacco products account for 86 percent of smokeless tobacco sales in c-stores, according to NACS.
"Illegal sellers of flavored products will find ways to operate outside the law and distribute products to customers of any age. These flavored products will not disappear under a ban; illicit sales on the black market will replace legal sales in retail stores," the association said.
A black market for flavored tobacco products will also increase health concerns, NACS added, because illegal manufacturers will operate outside the FDA's regulations.
"Banning menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored smokeless tobacco products will eliminate the important public health safeguards set by the FDA," it said.