President Trump’s 2019 budget released on Monday called for a 12% cut to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a 12% budget increase for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and $100 million in user fees for the e-cigarette industry.
The new user fee (read: tax on e-cigarettes, which would most certainly be passed on to consumers themselves) would fund FDA oversight of the vaping industry, as well as the agency’s goal of reducing the “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use.
According to the NIH website, the agency is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, including numerous studies on e-cigarette usage, its success as an aid to quit smoking, and potential health implications.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), who previously proposed a similar user fee on e-cigarettes, showed support for the 2019 Trump budget including the measure, stating “I’m glad the Trump administration is weighing-in and making it clear that it’s past time to tackle the crisis of youth e-cigarette use.”
Trump’s budget projections estimated that the e-cigarette user fee would pull in as much as $100 million per year.
In response to the budget announcement, outgoing FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb praised the new fees on e-cigarettes, claiming that it would help the agency take “aggressive steps to reduce their appeal and access to kids.”
According to the proposed budget, the fees “would ensure that FDA has the resources to address today’s alarming rise in youth e-cigarette use,” and fund related future problems. According to an Associated Press report, “the FDA already collects about $700 million in fees annually from makers of cigarettes, chew and other traditional tobacco products.” However, “e-cigarettes were not part of the 2009 law that gave FDA authority to regulate key parts of the tobacco industry, and to collect fees from companies.”
Liz Mair, a GOP strategist with Vapors United, characterized the e-cigarette user fees in Trump’s budget as a potential harm to public health. In a statement, Mair said, “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,” adding, “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.”
Here at Soupwire, we’ve speculated about the direction that the President’s next nominee for Food and Drug Administration Commissioner might take, with regard to vape juice flavors, efforts to stop underage e-cigarette use, and regulation. Trump’s proposed budget, which increases the FDA’s budget, and adds a $100 million user fee on e-cigarettes to combat youth vaping is a clear signal that the administration intends to continue the path set out by outgoing FDA chief Scott Gottlieb.
While Trump’s budget is unlikely to pass in Congress, the idea of an e-cigarette tax or user fee has bipartisan support and may become reality even if the rest of the 2019 Trump budget doesn’t come to fruition.
Soupwire will continue to bring you the latest in this developing story, as well as other vape news, studies, and deals.