The Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act has bipartisan as well as bicameral support as members of both the Senate and the House have come together to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings in e-cigarettes and cigars. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-DO-01) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08) are the sponsors for this bill.
Senator Dick Durbin said he was concerned that “powerful e-cigarette companies are winning the war for our children’s health and well-being” by using flavors that appeal to kids in e-cigarettes and cigars. The high levels of nicotine in the products have effects on teens brains and could create another generation that is addicted to nicotine. Murkowski stated that while she is “glad the FDA finally took regulatory actions last year,” they should be made into law.
One of the reasons the SAFE Kids Act is so important is that vaping products are the most common form of tobacco/nicotine used by teens. Adolescence is an important time period of brain development and nicotine use in teens alters brain growth and maturation. It sets the teen brain up for future addictions and also increases the risk for mental health disorders. Studies have shown that the majority of teens use a flavored tobacco product or a candy or fruit-flavored vaping product as their first product.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids supports the SAFE Kids Act as “flavored tobacco products play a key role in causing kids to start and continue using tobacco. Between 2000 and 2018 cigarette smoking among high school students decreased from 28% to 8%, but with the newer tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, being marketed and sold to children, tobacco use is again increasing. In the past year alone, high-school use of e-cigarettes has seen a 78% increase while middle school use has increased 48% and flavors are the reason for these increases.
It is important for our lawmakers to protect the health of our youth, and regulating flavors will decrease e-cigarette use in youth.