WASHINGTON — A Colorado Dem plans on introducing a House bill Tuesday that would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb youth vaping.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that e-cigarettes are driving a spike in the number of kids who are using tobacco products.
According to the new statistics, about 4.9 million middle and high school students currently use a tobacco product, up from 3.6 million users in 2017. That’s enough for the CDC to consider past progress on deterring youth smoking “erased.”
The use of tobacco products other than e-cigs remained steady, while young e-cig users jumped by 1.5 million and the number of kids saying they frequently used the devices — more than 20 days over the course of a month — jumped by 20 percent. E-cigarettes, which are more commonly used by boys and whites, outpace youth use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah, and pipes.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said at the time that the findings will be “forcing us to make some tough decisions about the regulatory status of e-cigarettes.”
Today, Gottlieb announced a number of measures including “vigorous enforcement activities, with a sustained campaign to monitor, penalize and help prevent e-cigarette sales to minors in retail locations, including manufacturers’ internet storefronts, as well as take additional steps to tackle other concerns related to the youth access and appeal of these products.”
Letters were sent to more than 40 companies “seeking information about whether more than 50 products – including a variety of flavored e-cigarette products – are being illegally marketed and outside the agency’s current compliance policy.”
“Soon we’ll be providing further information on our proposed new steps announced in November to address youth access to flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. We’re aware that some retailers and manufacturers have taken some initial positive steps aimed at reducing youth access to e-cigarettes and other tobacco products,” Gottlieb added. “While we recognize those who have taken some positive steps to confront this epidemic, we also know there’s more for them to do and that bad actors continue to put youth at risk despite knowing the law and for their own financial gain.”
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said a ban those flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy, tutti fruitti, and cookies ‘n’ cream, should be enshrined in law.
Her Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids Act says that manufacturers would have a year to prove to the FDA their claim that the yummy flavors don’t lead to increased e-cig use among kids but are only intended to help adults stop smoking. If they can’t prove it, their U.S. sales of flavored products would be halted.
Additionally, all flavors in cigars would be banned within a year of the bill becoming law.
“Tobacco use remains one of the greatest threats to our children’s health and we have to do more to protect them from the dangers of e-cigarettes,” DeGette said. “Most experts agree that the kid-friendly flavors that e-cigarette manufactures are selling with these products are one of the leading causes of this spike in use among our high school and middle school students.”
“To me, there is no legitimate reason to sell any product with names such as cotton candy or tutti fruitti, unless you are trying to market it to children,” she added. “If we’re going to address the root cause of this problem, we have to start by banning the sale of these enticing kid-friendly nicotine flavors.”