Apr. 28 2016
WASHINGTON, DC – This report shows exactly why we need U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of e-cigarettes to minimize the risks they pose, especially to children, and maximize potential benefits. The FDA must act to prevent marketing and sales of these products to kids. The FDA also needs to evaluate the evidence whether e-cigarettes are effective at helping cigarette smokers quit and, equally important, provide smokers with accurate information about which e-cigarettes are most effective at doing so.
If there is to be a public health benefit from e-cigarettes, it will only come if they are effective at helping smokers end the use of cigarettes and if they are responsibly marketed so they do not re-glamorize tobacco use among young people. However, the evidence to date in the United States is limited and conflicting as to whether they are actually effective at helping smokers quit. In October 2015, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force comprehensively evaluated the evidence to date and concluded that “the current evidence is insufficient to recommend electronic nicotine delivery systems for tobacco cessation…”
At the same time, the U.S. has seen a huge increase in youth use of e-cigarettes. From 2011 to 2015, there was a 10-fold increase in past-month e-cigarette use among high school students – from 1.5 percent to 16 percent. This is not surprising given the irresponsible marketing of e-cigarettes using tactics similar to those long used to market regular cigarettes to kids, as well as youth-friendly flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy.
It is critical that the White House promptly issue the final rule providing for FDA oversight of e-cigarettes. Without such oversight, there will continue to be more questions than answers about the public health impact of e-cigarettes.