And, the attack continues ... this time in the form of the federal House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee's bill H.R. 2339. If this legislative bill is passed into law by Congress in its current form, it will ban all catalogue and internet sales for tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and e-cig and vaping fluids.
Known as the "Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act," H.R. 2339 targets the cigarette and vaping industries, yet includes cigars and pipe tobacco. The bill clearly states that ALL tobacco purchases, including all cigars and pipe tobacco, would require "retail sales through a direct, in-person exchange between a retailer and a consumer."
H.R. 2339 also seeks to raise the national tobacco purchasing age to 21, including military personnel (they're old enough to die for our country, but they're not old enough to smoke??), and would give the FDA the authority to collect another $100 million in user fees from the tobacco industry.
The bill has a few more steps to complete before it can be passed into law. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote on - and pass! - H.R. 2339 next week. Afterwards, the bill would go before the House for a final vote. However, a timeline for that has not been set. If passed by the House, it would then go to the Senate for a final vote before going to Trump for his consideration.
I don't know about you, but it seems this piece of legislation is more about a federal money grab than the purported and tired excuse of "saving children." However, this bill, if passed, will have a significantly negative impact on the tobacco industry and its consumers. By prohibiting catalogue and internet tobacco sales, all online retailers will be forced to shut down their tobacco retail websites and either conduct business as a B&M retailer (if they don't already) or go out of business. For pipe smokers, it will mean having to drive to a pipe tobacco retail store in order to buy your pipes, tobacco, and accessories. Of course, buying products in a B&M retail store also means your costs go up because you'll be required to pay sales tax on all of your purchases -- something you avoid when you buy online.
So, if H.R. 2339 passes, the bill is a win-win for the government (FDA and the states) and corporate tobacco retailers. But, it's a total loser for small B&M retailers who rely on internet sales to keep their doors open, retailers that only have an online presence, and you, the customer. If you haven't contacted your Congressional representatives yet, now is the time to do so and let them know how strongly you oppose H.R. 2339!
The Story Teller