The Trump administration proposed charging user fees to e-cigarette makers in its fiscal year 2020 budget released Monday, hoping to stop what outgoing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called “an epidemic” of tobacco use among young people.
The proposal would add e-cigarette manufacturers and importers to the list of companies required to pay user fees to the FDA, and raise the amount of user fees that companies could be required to pay. Traditional tobacco companies already pay the fees.
The change “would ensure that FDA has the resources to address today’s alarming rise in youth e-cigarette use as well as new public health threats of tomorrow,” the budget proposal said.
Gottlieb has spent much of his tenure at the FDA overseeing a regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes. He has suggested that e-cigarette and vaping manufacturers are reeling in young people through targeted marketing strategies and appealing flavors. Gottlieb said last month in congressional testimony that he would support raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 years of age and has looked to limit sales of vaping products.
Liz Mair, a strategist with Vapors United, said that the proposal was a tax on e-cigarettes and that it would harm public health.
“If the intent here is to achieve tax parity between cigarettes and vapor products, that is a huge mistake and a massive giveaway to Big Tobacco,” Mair said in a statement. “If your concern is improving public health, either as a matter of altruism and ethics or pure concern for taxpayers’ pocketbooks, your policy should generally be to keep vapor taxes much lower than cigarette taxes to incentivize people to try to quit smoking using them.”