Sarbanes Advances Several Bills to Tackle Youth Tobacco Crisis and Protect Marylanders from Toxic Chemicals

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats to advance several bills that protect public health and combat the Trump Administration’s special interest, pro-polluter agenda.

Legislation passed by the Committee, with Congressman Sarbanes’ support, includes:

  • The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act (H.R. 2339), which would ban flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, and raise the purchasing age for tobacco to 21;
  • The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act (H.R. 1603), a bill to ban the use of asbestos in the United States; and
  • The PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535), which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a safety standard for the class of chemical pollutants known as PFAS.

“While the Trump Administration continues to cave to wealthy and well-connected special interests – by allowing polluters to use carcinogens like asbestos and PFAS and by refusing to respond to the youth tobacco epidemic and vaping crisis – House Democrats are taking significant steps to improve public health for the American people,” said Congressman Sarbanes, a prominent member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “For far too long, well-heeled donors and Washington insiders have set the agenda in Washington – an agenda that poses serious health risks for the American people. House Democrats remain committed to ending corruption in Washington so that we can make progress on critical issues, like cleaning up chemical pollution and taking on Big Tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers.”

After promising to respond to the skyrocketing rates of youth vaping and smoking by banning flavored tobacco products, President Trump reportedly reversed course and shelved the plan amid industry pressure and fears of political blowback. House Democrats have responded to the youth tobacco crisis by advancing the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, which would raise the purchasing age for tobacco products to 21. The bill would also ban flavored tobacco products, like those marketed by e-cigarette companies to children. It would prohibit advertising tobacco products to youth, raise user fees for tobacco and increase resources to develop smoking-cessation strategies for vulnerable populations. For more information about the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, see here.

According to internal EPA memos, senior Trump Administration officials overruled the agency’s scientists and experts by issuing a new regulation allowing the use of asbestos – instead of banning the product outright. House Democrats are taking action to protect Americans against carcinogens like asbestos by advancing the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, which would prohibit the use of asbestos, with very limited exceptions for national security purposes. It would also require a comprehensive study of asbestos currently in use and examine its health risks. For more information about the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act, see here.

The PFAS Action Act combines 12 pieces of legislation to crack down on the use of dangerous PFAS chemicals. The bill requires the listing of certain PFAS substances as hazardous materials, increases resources for communities affected by PFAS-compromised water systems, creates new labeling standards to denote consumer products made without PFAS, prevents the introduction of new PFAS into commerce and requires comprehensive studies of the health effects of PFAS. For more information about the PFAS Action Act, see here.