Tobacco news, and specifically news about highly appealing products like flavored electronic cigarettes is making waves across the country. You’ve probably heard that these and similar vaping products have been linked to hundreds of serious illnesses and even multiple deaths. But what you may not know, is that these products have helped fuel a new youth tobacco epidemic and have contributed to erasing decades of progress in reducing tobacco use.
The one positive about this new threat to public health is that public officials on all levels (local, state and federal) have taken notice and are signaling a willingness to take action. We’ll give you a brief rundown of what’s going on, on the federal level but if you want more information don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
Administration Takes Steps to Remove Flavored Electronic Cigarettes from the Market:
On September 11th, the Trump Administration announced that they will take a significant step to combat the youth tobacco epidemic. Citing the vulnerability of children and teens to appealing flavors like mango and mint, the President stated that in the coming weeks, the Food and Drug Administration would finalize policy that would remove flavored electronic cigarettes from the market. According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, “The Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities.” The AHA applauds these efforts and encourages the Administration to go even further by removing all flavored tobacco products, not just e-cigarettes from the market.
Unfortunately, Big Tobacco is not taking this lying down and has launched an initiative to block the move. We will need to remain vigilant to prevent the tobacco industry from winning this fight. We have science on our side, but we need to make our voices heard if we want to protect children from these dangerous products. You can help by sending this pre-filled tweet to the Administration urging them to move forward with their plan to remove flavored electronic cigarettes from the market.
Congressional Action on Youth Tobacco Epidemic:
The Administration is not alone in taking action to combat the youth tobacco epidemic. The United States Congress has taken notice as well. Last month, we recapped a Congressional hearing that focused on e-cigarette maker Juul’s role in the epidemic and their marketing strategy, but since then Congress has gone even farther.
Just last week, a new bi-partisan Congressional Caucus was launched, named the Congressional Caucus to End the Youth Vaping Epidemic with the goal of crafting legislative solutions to combat the growing threat of electronic cigarettes. AHA’s CEO, Nancy Brown had this to say after the announcement, “We commend lawmakers for uniting on a bipartisan and bicameral basis to create the Congressional Caucus to End the Youth Vaping Epidemic. It is no secret that the tobacco industry has long preyed on young people with viral marketing and flavors intended to entice and addict a new generation to nicotine. Now we are in the midst of a public health crisis, and we need bold action from our nation’s leaders to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of our youth. Together we can protect the health and safety of youth across the country and combat the mounting threat e-cigarettes pose to our population.”
More Congressional Hearings:
Two new Congressional hearings on e-cigarettes have been scheduled in an effort to increase the awareness of the youth epidemic and search for solutions to the problem. On September 24th, the House Oversight Committee's Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee held a hearing called “Don’t Vape: Examining the Outbreak of Lung Disease and CDC’s Urgent Warning Not to Use E-Cigarettes." The hearing was chaired by the Co-Chair of the new caucus Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi.
The following day, on September 25th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is having a hearing called “Sounding the Alarm: The Public Health Threats of E-Cigarettes.”
While we are thrilled that the Administration and Congress have recognized the public health crisis that flavored tobacco products have caused, we urge them to expedite the process and take immediate action to remove flavored tobacco products from the market. In the coming weeks, You’re the Cure will host hundreds of advocates from across the country in Washington D.C. for our bi-annual You’re the Cure on the Hill lobby day. We will be sharing our stories and experiences with Hill staff, while encouraging legislators to take swift action. There will be ample opportunities for YTC advocates to participate from their homes and help us continue to build momentum so please be on the lookout for ways you can help! We will keep you updated as the situation unfolds.