House Democrats on Friday passed new regulations on tobacco which, just days before, major liberal policy groups said would "further engrain systemic criminalization and racism."
H.R. 2339, the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, passed the House on a nearly party-line vote of 213 to 195. Just 17 Democrats voted against and 5 Republicans in support. The bill is meant as a comprehensive response to the spike in teen nicotine consumption. It prohibits the sale of cigarettes, vapes, or other tobacco products that are flavored in any way, including with menthol, among other reforms.
That menthol ban drew the ire of seven liberal policy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Action Network. In a letter sent Monday to H.R. 2339's author Rep. Frank Pallone (D., N.J.) and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the groups wrote that they were concerned "a blanket prohibition on menthol and other flavored tobacco products, which will apply to adults, will (1) disproportionately impact people and communities of color; (2) trigger criminal penalties, prioritizing criminalization over public health and harm reduction; and (3) instigate unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement."