As Congress prepares to move forward on the spending bills necessary to keep the federal government running, we’re on the lookout for policy language that would run counter to our ongoing mission to reduce and someday end cardiovascular disease and stroke.
In the House, the agriculture spending bill passed in mid-April would take several steps backward when it comes to making sure our kids are getting the healthy school meals they need to succeed. Unfortunately, some of these we’ve seen before, including a waiver for the current requirement that schools serve whole grains, and a delay in implementing much-needed sodium reduction standards. Outside the school cafeteria, the bill would also delay the recently-announced nutrition facts label overhaul that will finally include information on added sugars. For these and other reasons, we opposed the bill shortly after it was introduced.
When it comes to tobacco, we have just as many reservations. After the FDA finalized a rule last month giving the agency much-needed oversight over e-cigarettes, cigars, and other harmful tobacco products, the House spending bill would completely exempt certain types of cigars from regulation, and include a provision that would essentially exempt e-cigs, cigars, and other tobacco product that are already on the market from undergoing critical FDA review. At a time when high school students are smoking cigars at a slightly higher rate than cigarettes, we can’t allow these carve outs to become law.
The good news is that the Senate appropriations bills are in far better shape, and will hopefully lead to final spending bills that don’t include these harmful measures. As these bills move forward throughout the summer, we’ll follow up with more information on how you can let your representatives know that protecting our families’ health must be a top priority.