WASHINGTON, D.C., June 15, 2023 — The House Appropriations Committee approved legislation for the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and related agencies that includes provisions that would undermine public health by preventing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from implementing a proposal to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars and to develop a plan to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes. The bill also includes policy riders that would halt progress to make school meals more nutritious, prevent the FDA from working with industry on voluntary sodium reduction efforts and weaken efforts to establish a definition of healthy and the healthy food benefit for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health, issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disappointed to see lawmakers undermine critical federal efforts to prevent tobacco use and promote nutrition and food security. Lawmakers are prioritizing the interests of the tobacco and food industries over the health of the communities they have been elected to represent.
“Over the past year, the FDA has made clear its intention to counteract some of Big Tobacco’s most dangerous and predatory tactics. The agency’s bold proposal to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars, and its announcement that it would begin the rulemaking process to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, would reduce these products’ appeal, prevent young people from starting to smoke and help millions of people quit. Congress should be promoting, not obstructing, the FDA’s efforts to combat the deadly trajectory of tobacco use in this country.
“The same goes for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Earlier this year, USDA issued a strong proposal that would make the meals children eat at school healthier. Riders included in the appropriations bill would undercut this progress by mandating that USDA serve low-fat flavored milk, permitting cheese to be exempt from sodium targets or prevent sodium reduction efforts to continue and allowing starchy vegetables, like hashbrowns, to be served at school breakfast over fruits and vegetables. Provisions would also backtrack the FDA’s work with industry on voluntary sodium reduction efforts and weaken the WIC healthy food benefit, along with efforts to establish a definition of healthy.
“These provisions would take away crucial tools from USDA and FDA to improve nutrition and food security and change the course of tobacco use in this country. We urge Congress to prioritize public health and remove these harmful provisions from its appropriations legislation for FY24.”
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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