Congress Raises Tobacco Purchasing Age, Increases Federal Investment in Cancer Research

January 6, 2020

President Trump recently signed into law a bill that funds the federal government, including the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. Importantly, the bill also raises the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21.

“A longtime advocate on this issue, ASCO believes this important change will delay and reduce the use of tobacco and help prevent tobacco-related cancers,” ASCO President Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, said in a statement. “We commend Congress for taking this important step and look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers and regulators in service of our longstanding commitment to reducing and eventually eliminating tobacco-related cancers.”

Overview of Funding for FY2020

The bill provides a $2.6 billion increase for the NIH, bringing the total funding level to $41.7 billion. The NCI receives $6.44 billion – nearly a $300 million increase from FY2019. The bill also provides full funding for the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot and the STAR Act, which enhances opportunities to expand research on childhood cancer and increases efforts to improve quality of life for pediatric cancer survivors.

To address the skyrocketing number of grant applications to NCI, the bill provides $212.5 million to prioritize competing grants and sustain commitments to continuing grants.

The bill also includes:

  • $3.16 billion for the FDA (a $91 million increase)
  • Full funding for the 21st Century Cures Act, including full funding for the Oncology Center of Excellence
  • $51.4 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cancer Registries

ASCO will continue to advocate continued investment in federally funded cancer research and will work with Congressional lawmakers as they begin deliberations on FY2021 funding levels, which is expected to kick off early this year.

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