National Youth Tobacco Survey 2011-2017

The latest National Youth Tobacco Survey 2011-2017 has been published regarding current (past 30-day) use of tobacco use among middle (grades 6-8) and high school students (grades 9-12).  Current use was defined as use on 1 or more days during the past 30 days.  Combustible tobacco products were defined as cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipe tobacco, and/or bidis (small imported cigarettes wrapped in a leaf).

Among high school students, 19.6% reported current use of any tobacco product which included 9.2% who currently used 2 or more tobacco products.  It was not surprising that in 2017 electronic cigarettes (11.7%) were the most common form of tobacco product among high school students, followed by cigars (7.7%), cigarettes (7.6%), smokeless tobacco (5.5%), hookah (3.3%), pipe tobacco (0.8%), and bidis (0.7%).  More males than females used smokeless tobacco.  Non-Hispanic white (white) (14.2%) and Hispanic (10.1%) high school students were more likely to use e-cigarettes while cigars were most commonly used tobacco product among non-Hispanic black (black) high school students (7.8%).  During 2016-2017, decreases in current use of hookah and pipe tobacco were seen among high school students.

Among middle school students, 5.6% used any tobacco product, including 2.4% who used 2 or more tobacco products.  As with high school students, e-cigarettes were most popular (3.3%), followed by cigarettes (2.1%), smokeless tobacco (1.9%), cigars (1.5%), hookah (1.4%), pipe tobacco (0.4%), and bidis (0.3%). Males (6.4%) were more likely than females (4.8%) to use any tobacco product.  E-cigs were the most commonly used product among Hispanic (4.0%), white (3.4%), and black (2.2%) middle school students.

While decreases were seen in the current use of any tobacco product during 2011-2017 among both middle and high school students, one in five high school students (2.95 million) and one in 18 (0.67 million) middle school students currently uses a tobacco product.  Of those, one in two high school students and two and five middle school students reported using 2 or more tobacco products.  Nicotine dependence increased in multiple tobacco product users compared with those in single product users.

Several factors could have contributed to the decrease in tobacco use including tobacco prevention and control strategies, price increases, smoke-free policies, and media education about the dangers of tobacco use.  But youth are still exposed to product advertising through media and the availability of flavored tobacco products.  The FDA is currently obtaining “information related to the role that flavors play in tobacco product use.”

While it is good to see decreases in use among youth, we still have a long way to go to reach all students about the current and future dangers of tobacco and nicotine use.  The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators is currently updating information in our 30- and 60 point courses including a new chapter specifically on electronic cigarettes and vaping.

Click HERE for the full NYTS text.

 

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Addiction Scholarships

Were you just as outraged as we were to see the vaping industry resort to using food product logos and packaging to promote their products to kids?  Now e-cigarette and vaporizer sellers are getting their brands listed on university websites by, get this, offering college scholarships!  And it’s not to just to some obscure colleges, ivy league schools were also included, such as Harvard.

For a chance to earn a $250 to $5,000 scholarship, all the applicant has to do is write about the dangers of smoking and why vaping is the better alternative.  One company wants the applicant to go so far as to recommend different e-cigarettes.  According to one owner of a vaping review site that is offering a scholarship, “many in the industry are former smokers and want to help teens avoid tobacco.”  He even goes as far as admitting it is a marketing tool, but does it go farther than that, and become a thinly veiled disguise to get kids hooked on a different type of nicotine product and to do research marketing for the vaping industry?

The head of the American Vaping Association defends the practice saying it is no different than a major beer manufacturer that provides scholarships for minority students, including to the American Indian College Fund.  A quick search also found Burger King, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Panera among food and beverage companies offering scholarships, but wouldn’t you be outraged to hear a major tobacco company giving money to students, especially if the hopeful recipients had to write in favor of tobacco, a highly addictive product?  And perhaps we should be outraged that a beer manufacturer is providing money for scholarships, especially when the Native American populations have a higher rate of alcoholism.

According to a director for the American Cancer Society lobbying arm in Washington, “this is all about marketing.”  And offering scholarships is one way for a vaping company to get “their link on a university financial-aid page or website.”  It would also seem the university is supporting vaping.  “Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pittsburgh and others” ended up with vaping scholarships on their financial-aid directories until the Associated Press (AP) asked about them.  A spokesman at one of the universities said “we’re not interested in being a platform for tobacco or vaping.” The sites have since been removed at the colleges that were contacted, but how many others don’t even know about the scholarships?

The vaping industry says their products are meant for adults trying to quit smoking, but just recently the FDA came down on the vaping industry for promoting flavors meant to attract youth and for allowing vaping devices to to sold to underage purchasers through online sales.  For the record Florida law requires e-cigarette purchasers to be 18 years old while other states and/or communities have raised the tobacco age to 21 and include e-cigarettes in the definition of tobacco.

There is no legitimate reason for these scholarships other than the industry’s financial gain in future users.

Click HERE for the entire article from CBSNews.com

 

 

 

 

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Voters Defeat Big Tobacco in San Francisco

Congratulations to San Francisco voters for seeing through R.J. Reynolds deceptive and self-serving campaign, and voting in a “historic victory for kids and health” by banning the sale of flavored tobacco products on the June 6 ballot.

In June 2017 San Francisco’s board of supervisors approved an ordinance banning flavors, including menthol, in tobacco products which was set to take effect April 2018.  The ban prohibited sales of the products within city limits, but not their use.  Nearly 34,000 signatures were gathered in a petition drive, paid for by R.J. Reynolds, to place Prop E on the June 2018 ballot.  Reynolds then spent nearly $12 million to defeat the referendum, but on June 6 voters went to the polls and voted to uphold the ban with a 68 percent to 32 percent margin.

Flavored products are considered “starter” products by the tobacco industry and are heavily marketed to attract kids. The flavors improve the taste and make smoking less harsh on the throat, which make them easier to use.   The tobacco industry continues to market their menthol cigarette brands to kids, African Americans, and other groups.  Newport cigarettes are the best-selling menthol brand, “and the second most popular cigarette brand among youth smokers.”  Over half of youth smokers (54 percent) ages 12-17 use menthol cigarettes versus only one-third of adult smokers 35 and older.  And African-American youth menthol rate is even higher at 70 percent.

As smoking rates have fallen, the tobacco industry has turned to more candy-flavored tobacco products such as little flavored cigars which “make up more than half of the U.S. cigar market.”  The cheap prices and the bright packaging helps to grab youth attention.  Youth who decided they didn’t want to smoke are  turning to vaping, with over 15,000 kid-friendly, electronic cigarette flavors being marketed in colorful packaging that looks like candy and food products.

Tobacco flavors play an important role in initiation and continued use among youth.  According to Truth Initiative, “nearly 81 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 who had ever used a tobacco product reported that the first product they used was flavored,” and 80 percent of current youth users report they have used a flavored product in the past month.

Banning flavors will “stop the tobacco industry from targeting kids, African Americans and other populations with menthol- and candy-flavored products” and will hopefully decrease the number of current users.  While the will of the people have spoken, this probably is not the last we will hear from the tobacco industry on this matter.

Click here for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids article.
Little cigar photo from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  E-cigarette flavor from FDA.

 

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School Vaping Craze

Education Week, an American education news site, published an article, “Use of Juul device makes vaping hard to detect” by Evie Blad.  According to her article, kids have rejected smoking, but replaced it with vaping.  Search news articles on vaping, or Juuling, in the class and you will find every area of the U.S. is dealing with the problem.

Cigarette packs in purses and pockets have given way to a small device easily hidden in the palm of the hand, tucked into a backpack or a pocket.  Users are puffing away in bathrooms, hallways, and classrooms seemingly undetected. The devices are being placed in hollowed-out markers, and charged right in the classroom on laptops with a USB device.  And school administrators have dealt with this problem all year.

What is the attraction, other than getting away with something you shouldn’t be doing in class?  Marketed as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes for adults who want to quit smoking, it has the highest amount of nicotine you can buy.  According to students, “you get a super buzz off of it.”  If the buzz wasn’t enough to get you hooked, the flavors are another attraction.  The device is so popular, Juul currently holds about 60% of the e-cigarette market.  Some kids who once loved the novelty of the devices say they became addicted quickly and are trying to quit.  Studies have also shown that vaping may lead some teens to start smoking.

Right now smoking is down to record low numbers for 8th, 10th and 12th graders, according to Monitoring the Future, a national student survey conducted by the University of Michigan. In 2017 the number of students who reported smoking a cigarette in the last 30 days was at 5.4%, while vaping was at 12% in that same time period.  However, smoking numbers could increase again as students turn back to using tobacco as their addiction to nicotine increases.

In April, the FDA announced a nationwide effort to crackdown on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and demanded data from Juul Labs to understand the design of the product and the marketing practices.  Juul, in turn, has announced “$30 million in prevention efforts targeted to youths” and has asked for states to raise the purchase age for tobacco to 21.

One of the concerns about vaping is there is no research on the long-term effects.  The vaping industry markets the products as “safer” and “less harmful” than smoking cigarettes, but many of the newer devices contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, as well as other other harmful chemicals which are not listed on the product.

It used to be that in any school only a certain group of teens would smoke; vaping has changed that.  While some parents have purchased vaping devices for their kids because they were led to believe it was safer than smoking, most parents aren’t aware of their child’s use.  Teens are vaping in their rooms at home, and the smell is hard to detect.

Some schools are going beyond suspensions and offering “cessation and counseling efforts to help students quit and to make them aware of potential hazards.  Palm Beach County Schools will be offering a 10 point professional development course to Palm Beach educators on e-cigarettes and vaping for SY2019 school year.  In addition, new information will be added to both the 30- and 60 point Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course that will be offered in the fall for any educator in Florida with a current Florida Department of Education teaching certificate.  After taking the course, teachers will required to teach six (6) tobacco prevention classes to their students.  The courses are at no cost to educators, schools or districts.

The greatest power we have against any threat to our students is to provide them with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their future.

Click HERE for the article from Education Week

 

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World No Tobacco Day 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners mark May 31 as World No Tobacco Day to highlight the health issues associated with tobacco use.  This year’s theme is “Tobacco and heart disease.”  Here in the U.S., “heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and is the leading cause of death worldwide.”   Some risks of heart disease can not be changed, such as family history or age, but others such as high blood pressure, stress, physical inactivity or smoking, can be improved through lifestyle changes.  The more risk factors you have, the higher the likelihood you will develop heart disease.

Scientists have known since the 1940s that smoking is linked to heart disease as well as cancer, but while cancer is reported more often, many are unaware of the link to heart disease. In China, a country with very high smoking rates, up to 61% of adults were not aware of the increased risk.

Smoking damages the heart in several ways.   It damages the lining of the blood vessels, and increases fat deposits in the arteries.  It raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowers your HDL (good cholesterol).   It increases clotting.  The nicotine in tobacco increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.  You don’t need to be a heavy smoker to see signs of heart disease from smoking.  Smoking as few as five cigarettes a day can increase your risk of coronary heart disease or CHD, especially in women.  For men the number is six to nine cigarettes a day to double your risk.  Even living with a smoker can increase a nonsmokers risk of heart disease by 25% – 30% due to the chemicals and nicotine in smoke.

If you are thinking of using smokeless tobacco instead of smoking, there are risks associated with that as well.  Those who use smokeless tobacco also have an increased risk of heart disease due to the nicotine in their products.   The nicotine in snuff and chewing tobacco “causes an immediate increase in heart rate and blood pressure” when the product is used.

We have made progress in reducing smoking rates, but we need to do more to prevent so many deaths.  The good news is quitting smoking can reduce your cardiovascular risk over time to that of a nonsmoker while quitting smokeless tobacco can not only prevent heart issues, but a host of other health issues as well.

Click HERE for risk factors for heart disease and HERE for World Health Organization News Release.
Top banner from WHO
Bottom picture from thehealthsite.com

 

 

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April tobacco news from Trinkets and Trash

Trinkets and Trash is a surveillance project that lets subscribers see the latest in tobacco industry marketing from all forms of media.  Their emails highlight the ads and contests used during the previous month on tobacco and vaping sites.

Just in time for Earth Day 2018 in April, Malboro and Natural American Spirit cigarettes remind smokers to properly dispose of their cigarette litter.  Natural American Spirit has a weekly trivia challenge on their website to learn more about cigarette litter, and users can collect “virtual cigarette butts” by answering the trivia questions correctly.  Can you imagine how much cleaner the world would be if all those users actually went out and collected real cigarette butts?  For those who actually do want to help clean up butts, you can request a butt pouch to help you with the job, because a regular plastic bag isn’t good enough.

When just any menthol cigarettes won’t do, Newport’s are getting fancy with new Platinum menthols.  Newport offers users the PayDay Scratch Off sweepstakes.  Just visit their site daily to scratch off a virtual lottery card for a chance to win prizes from $25 to $500.  After all that hard work scratching off virtual cards, go to their “Fresh Take Studio” to make songs from pre-programmed drum, bass, keyboard, guitar and accent loops which you can enter for more prizes with weekly grand prizes of a $6,000 concert get-away.

Black and Mild had their own sweepstakes going where you could pick one of two prizes to instantly win.  The first week’s contest featured “Fire Pits and Friends” scene “where the rich aroma of a campfire and a Black and Mild hang in the air.”  And if you don’t like that smell in the air, there is a $10,000 grand prize, because “there’s nothing like the smell of money.”  That’s probably what the tobacco industry says each time a product is purchased.

Juul was just cited by the FDA for under aged youth using their products.  And in April, the same month they were contacted by the FDA, a post on their Facebook page “directed users to the brand’s website where they can email up to 10 friends (who are adult smokers, er, vapers…cough…cough) to receive $15 off their first Juul purchase.  That would cut the cost almost in half, making your first purchase to a lifelong addiction more affordable. Each successful referral gets a $15 site credit.  Blu electronic cigarettes also has a reward program to get users to convince their friends to start vaping.  It will be interesting to see if the FDA knew/knows about this.

With all this virtual stuff on their websites, it sort of makes you wonder why tobacco and vaping users just don’t “virtually” smoke.  It would save them a lot of money and would protect their health.  Of course, the tobacco industry probably wouldn’t see it that way, but it is worth a try.

Click HERE to see the April edition of Trinkets and Trash

 

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The Vaping Debate

Should we recommend vaping to smokers as a means to help them quit, or is it just another way to allow them to continue smoking?  And what about kids using these products?  Too many of them are starting to vape when they never considered smoking to begin with, putting them on a nicotine pathway to addiction and possible cigarette smoking in their future.  This debate of getting smokers to change to vaping versus getting them to quit smoking totally has been going on ever since electronic cigarettes went on the market.   In England, e-cigarettes are considered “helpful aids to cessation,” but in the U.S. not only are vapers seen as less likely to quit, these devices are more likely to pull kids into a nicotine addicted lifestyle.

First, it should be noted that this blog is the social media part of the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course, and as a tobacco prevention course, we do not condone youth using any type of nicotine product which will cause an addiction.  The studies have shown that nicotine by itself is harmful to the developing brain. And as more research is conducted on e-cigarettes, the evidence continues to show additional health risks, such as increased heart attacks.

But for adult smokers who have high pack years of smoking, could the devices be helpful?  As far back as 2015, Public Health England endorsed e-cigarette use and stated “e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking.”  Doctors were not only telling smokers that e-cigarettes might help them quit smoking, but considered them as effective as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches or gum.  One study said that even after dual use of smoking and vaping, users not only quit smoking, but also quit vaping as well.  And as for youth using e-cigarettes, the UK debaters suggest they while they may experiment with vaping, “it is rare for youth to use e-cigarettes on a regular basis.”

According to the con side of vaping, new evidence is suggesting e-cigarette use depresses cessation attempts rather than helps.  The original UK optimism that e-cigarettes was the answer to end smoking has even changed with new research.  According to a 2018 Public Health England report “there is insufficient evidence from randomized controlled trials about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as cessation aids compared with no treatment.”  But even that trial is questionable as they gave people the e-cigarettes and only gave a redeemable coupon for prescription NRT.  People using high dose e-cigarettes seem to quit more, but that is a small percentage (10%-20%); the other 80%-90% of users are less likely to quit.  Even a European Union study using information from the UK “found that vapers were less likely to stop smoking than non-vapers.”

There is strong evidence e-cigarettes are a gateway “for addicting new generations of young smokers,” although pro vaping advocates argue against the findings.  Analysis of nine published studies associate e-cigarette use with “four times the chance of being a smoker at follow-up compared with youth who had never tried e-cigarettes.”  A study in England found 11-18 year olds “never smokers who had ever tried e-cigarettes were 12 times more likely than never users to have become smokers at follow-up (52%).

Youth who never considered smoking are now being pulled into nicotine use.  In the US it is estimated that for every adult smoker who quits, “about eight new young smokers” are taking their place.  While e-cigarette advocates report their products are safer and less harmful than cigarettes, that harm reduction theory is eroded when “93% of e-cigarette users in the US also reported smoking cigarettes.”  Youth in France also report dual use at 83%.  And England, a country that reported it was “rare for youth to use e-cigarettes,” had a 60% dual use of both smoking and e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette users may not be exposed to the “70 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke,” but they still inhale chemicals, nicotine and ultrafine particles deep into the lungs and their heart attack risk is much higher than non-users.  We already know smokers have a high rate of heart disease; in a study released this year, “daily conventional cigarette smoking resulted in a risk factor adjusted 172% increase in risk of heart attack.”  Daily e-cigarette use was associated with a 79% increase in heart attack risk.

It has taken over a century for researchers and scientists to point out the health effects of using tobacco cigarettes- they are still discovering new health risks – and the industry has fought scientific findings all the way.  E-cigarette marketing is proving much the same way by decreasing risks by comparing vaping to smoking.  We are still in the early days of learning the harms from e-cigarette use, but it is our youth who will pay the price of a lifelong addiction.  Great for the vaping industry sales, bad for the health of the next generation.

We already know what smoking will do to your body with all the chemicals, but vaping also has chemicals that can do harm as well.  If you are going to compare vaping to something, compare it to not vaping at all.  Suddenly vaping doesn’t look as harmless as it seems.

Click HERE for the vaping debate, HERE for the Positions of medical organizations on e-cigarettes, and HERE for Teens who vape higher doses of nicotine are more likely to become regular smokers.

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Protect Yourself from a Stroke

May is American Stroke Month and it is the perfect time to learn about strokes and how to prevent them.  Certain risk factors such as increasing age, gender, heredity and race and prior stroke can’t be avoided, but you can take control of other factors, including smoking.

A stroke happens when blood flow to one or more areas of the brain is blocked.  When this happens, the brain can’t get the oxygen it needs, and brain cells begin to die quickly. Strokes can happen at any age, but are more common in adults over 50 with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, artery disease, AFib, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), and certain blood disorders such as sickle cell disease.

High blood pressure is a common medical condition and is a major causes of strokes, yet many people are not aware their pressure is too high because there usually are no symptoms.  A good place to start is with a physical examination from your health care provider to assess your numbers.  The American Heart Association has five blood pressure ranges to help you understand where your numbers fall.

Another risk factor that is high on the list is smoking.  Each time you light up the nicotine causes an increase in your blood pressure, heart rate and the flow of blood from the heart.  The arteries also narrow.  Your cells need oxygen, but carbon monoxide in the smoke reduces the amount of oxygen the blood can supply.  Smoking also makes blood platelets stickier, making clots more likely to form.

Some smokers have switched to electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes because they believe they are safer.  But several studies suggest that e-cigarette use increased heart rate and blood pressure, especially the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). Long-term studies in mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor showed “arteries that were 2.5 times stiffer than normal,” which can lead to heart disease.  Right now not enough is known about vaping to determine the safety long-term.

There are certain factors that you can’t control when it comes to a stroke, but you can control your blood pressure, weight, diet, and exercise, and proper treatment of medical conditions such as diabetes.  And if you are a smoker, quitting can not only improve your breathing, it can improve your blood pressure and help you better manage your diabetes.  Let’s get healthy.

Click HERE for more information on strokes.
FAST Image from Louisiana Hospital Association
Blood Pressure Guideline image used by American Heart and American Stroke Associations

 

 

 

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E-cigarette liquids look good enough to eat

The Food and Drug Administration has just released another press announcement regarding their efforts to reduce tobacco use, especially among our youth, that started in late 2017.  They are citing companies that are labeling and/or advertising their electronic cigarette liquids in familiar kid-friendly food packaging.  So far 13 warning letters have been sent out regarding this matter.

No child should ever be using tobacco products, but to market these products with imagery that makes kids think it is safe to eat or drink is misleading and dangerous, and could result in serious physical injury or even death.  While the FDA is encouraging companies to develop “less harmful forms of nicotine delivery for currently addicted adult smokers,” they want limited product appeal to youth.

The FDA is targeting electronic cigarette/vaping products that look like children’s apple juice boxes, popular sour candies, and look-alike cookie products. One product resembles Reddi-whip dairy topping while another product looks like a unicorn pop lollipop and is even shipped with one.  These imitations of food products are a clear “violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because their labeling and/or advertising imitating kid-friendly foods is false or misleading.”  The Federal Trade Commission Act “prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising” and the FTC joined the FDA on issuing warning letters.  The companies that were targeted have 15 working days to respond on what actions they will take to address the concerns.  Failure to respond to the letter “may result in further action such as seizure or injunction.”  It is evident from the pictures these companies and products are clearly targeting our youth.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that as electronic nicotine devices (ENDS) became more popular, the rise of calls to poison control centers and emergency room visits also increased.  Children are at greater risk of acute toxicity due to exposure of even small amounts of nicotine in the e-liquids which could result in seizure, coma, respiratory arrest or even cardiac arrest.

As more the 2 million middle and high school students are drawn to e-cigarettes due to the flavorings, the FDA is working to enforce existing regulations to keep ENDS products out of their hands.  Many of the e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine and exposure affects the developing brain.  It may also “rewire it to be more susceptible to nicotine addiction in the future.”

Teens are turning to online sales of nicotine products to avoid age requirements, and the FDA has taken steps to end the online sales of JUUL, one vaping device currently popular among teens.  Requiring only face-to-face sales of nicotine products will also decrease youth purchasing of tobacco and vaping devices.  Raising the age limit for tobacco sales to 21 throughout the U.S. will also make it more difficult for underage youth.  Our kids are too important for us to lose another generation to nicotine addiction.

Click HERE for the FDA announcement
All images from the FDA.gov site.

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The FDA is cracking down on E-cigarettes

On April 24, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration announced that protecting our youth from the dangers of tobacco products is an important responsibility, and therefore steps must be put into place to decrease youth access to and use of tobacco and nicotine products.

One such measure the FDA is considering is to reduce the nicotine content in cigarettes rendering them “minimally or non-addictive” thus preventing youth from becoming addicted in the first place.  In order for that plan to be put into place, the FDA also has to set up rules for regulating non-combustible products such as e-cigarettes.  While the FDA is working to decrease youth experimentation of tobacco products, it must also make sure they aren’t using other nicotine delivery systems

A new Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan with a focus on “stopping youth use of tobacco products, and in particular, e-cigarettes” is being put into place.   In the past several years use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), usually referred to as e-cigarettes, have skyrocketed among youth.  One product in particular, the JUUL brand, has higher levels of nicotine, resembles a USB flash drive, uses fruit and dessert flavors, and produces an aerosol vapor that is difficult to see, making them attractive for youth to use even in a school setting.  Other brands of nicotine delivery products have similar characteristics as the JUUL.  The majority of these products contain nicotine, which many users may not be aware they are using, and can “rewire an adolescent’s brain” leading to years of addiction.

The FDA has already taken steps for regulation and enforcement of the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, specifically JUUL products, at both retail stores and online retailers.  This crack down, which started on April 6 and will continue throughout the month, has found numerous violations of the law.  Since the beginning of March the FDA has uncovered “40 violations for illegal sales of JUUL products to youth” and warning letters have been sent out.  The FDA has pledged their continued enforcement of the law in an effort to reduce sales to minors and says they will hold retailers accountable for any sales to youth.  As part of this effort, the FDA contacted online seller eBay over sales of JUUL products on its website.  eBay has since removed the listings and will prevent any future listings on their website.  Other manufacturers will be contacted directly and the FDA will hold them accountable for any sales to youth.

The FDA has also requested information from the manufacturers that will help them understand why kids find these products appealing.  An official request for information has already been sent to JUUL Labs asking for specific documentation to address the high rate of youth use, product marketing, the effects of their products on health, as well as any consumer complaints they may have received.  Other manufacturers will also be sent letters.  Not complying with the FDA requests will be considered violation of the law and subject to enforcement.

According to the FDA, JUUL Labs recognizes there is a problem and hopes to address the concerns with the FDA and stakeholders.  But the FDA says more needs to be done as it is not acceptable for any child to be marketed to, sold to or use tobacco products.  Not only does the FDA have a responsibility to prevent kids from getting hooked on nicotine, but so do the companies making these products.

As the FDA is going after the manufacturers, they are also launching an e-cigarette prevention campaign to educate youth about the dangers of e-cigarettes and all tobacco products.  The launch will take place under “The Real Cost” brand starting in September.

The FDA understands that ENDS products like e-cigarettes could provide a less harmful alternative to smoking for those addicted adult smokers who still want some form of nicotine.  However, the success of these products are weakened if kids are attracted to them.

Kudos to the FDA for recognizing the e-cigarette problem among youth and taking steps to protect the health of our next generation.  While the agency turns to the manufacturers for answers as to why the products are appealing to youth, perhaps the agency should talk to the youth themselves for the answers.   We know one way to curtail youth use would be to make Tobacco 21 a federal law.  Perhaps it is time for this law to take effect.

Click HERE for the FDA announcement

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