Congress Tackles Youth Smoking; Pelosi Drug Pricing; Biden's Cancer Commitment

June 17, 2019 by Chris Pirschel ONS Staff Writer/Producer, and Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

Congress Sets Sights on Smoking Epidemic

Healthcare advocates assembled in the U.S. Congress to hear from panelists about the national epidemic of youth smoking ( From those conversations, a common theme emerged: many believe that the rise in youth vaping and smoking is directly related to marketing and sales tactics by large tobacco manufacturers.

The U.S. House launched an investigation into e-cigarette manufacturer Juul ( to understand if the company’s marketing practices target children. In the Senate, Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Kaine (D-VA) vehemently emphasized their commitment to legislation and enhanced federal regulations to tighten control over Big Tobacco. They also mentioned a bipartisan bill (, Tobacco to 21 Act (H.R. 2411/S. 1258), aimed to nationally raise the age of purchase for tobacco to 21. ONS has been a leader in the efforts to curb tobacco consumption ( and will continue to be a voice in these prevention campaigns.

Pelosi Changes Stance on Drug Pricing

The rising drug cost issue has topped the debate of a larger conversation: how to tackle change in an enormous healthcare system. Americans continue to rank the personal costs of health care—and in particular drug prices—as their number one financial concern ( For many, the impact of drug pricing consumes the largest single percentage of a family’s income.

Finding a way to bring down costs is a bipartisan goal (, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been hit on both sides by how to do it ( Progressives want her to expand the number of drugs annually negotiated through Medicare—which she agreed to do from 25 to 250—but conservatives are seeking alternatives ( through state authority to reimport drugs through Canada, leading to potential safety concerns. Look for heated hearings in Congress soon, and ONS will be there to promote patient-centered care (

Biden Commits to Cancer Cure

Although the Bidens had to step away from their foundation (, their connection to finding solutions to the cancer issue is still personal and strong. After his son’s death in 2015, Biden spearheaded the Cancer Moonshot Initiative (, attempting to make a decade’s worth of advancements in half the time. The program has been successful and popular on both sides of the aisle.

On the campaign trail, Biden took even bolder steps by committing to cure cancer ( if elected president. Although the sentiment is well met, the reality may be far more difficult than a single cure. However, it’s an encouraging sign of his dedication to federally investing in cancer research, treatment, and prevention strategies.

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