A congresswoman in New York is proposing legislation intended to curb international drug trafficking by highlighting which countries ship the most fentanyl into the U.S.
Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney introduced the bill at a press conference in Binghamton Thursday, saying Congress needs to push forward “bold policies” to address the ongoing national opioid epidemic. The Deterring Overseas Narcotics Transport Act, dubbed the DONT Act, would direct the U.S. Department of State to add countries where large amounts of fentanyl is coming from to their annual report on narcotics trafficking, reports WKTV.
The bulk of international fentanyl trafficking is currently pegged to China. Countries with high rates of fentanyl shipments into the U.S. could face cuts to their bilateral foreign aid under the legislation.
“As a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, I am committed to pushing forward bold policies that address the problem our country faces with drug addiction,” said Tenney, according to WKTV. “The DONT ACT is common-sense legislation that would help save the lives of thousands of Americans. It is more important now than ever to join together and fight back against this epidemic that has been tearing our families apart.”
Opioid overdose made up a staggering 66 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2016, surpassing the annual number of lives lost to breast cancer. Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced a particularly dramatic increase, more than doubling from 9,580 lives in 2015 to 19,413 lives last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials say the epidemic is contributing to declining life expectancy in the U.S. Life expectancy dropped for the second consecutive year in 2016 for the first time since an outbreak of influenza in 1962 and 1963.
President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency” on Oct. 26, giving states hit hard by opioid addiction flexibility on how they direct federal resources to combat rising drug deaths.
Nationally, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing 63,600 people in 2016.
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