Tobacco-Free Kids Supports Legislation to Bolster CDC Efforts to Address Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
April 05, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act, legislation introduced today in Congress to authorize additional funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the skyrocketing youth e-cigarette epidemic. The CDC has a critical role to play in addressing the youth e-cigarette epidemic, and this legislation recognizes it needs additional resources given the severity of this public health emergency.

We applaud the sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), for their leadership in working to reverse this epidemic and prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation of kids. The bill numbers are H.R. 2111 and S. 1048.

From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use among high school students rose by 78 percent to 20.8 percent of the student population, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). More than 3.6 million middle and high school students were e-cigarette users in 2018 – an increase of 1.5 million in just one year. A growing number of studies show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers, and many are low-risk youth who would not have otherwise smoked cigarettes. We must take forceful action now to reverse this epidemic and prevent e-cigarettes from eroding the decades-long progress our nation has made in reducing youth tobacco use.

The PROTECT Act authorizes $100 million in funding per year for five years for a CDC initiative to address this epidemic. These funds would be used to:

  • Enhance research on youth use of e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products.
  • Identify effective messages to youth and those who work with youth for reducing use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Educate youth about the rapidly evolving tobacco product landscape and the harmful effects of tobacco products.
  • Provide funds via grants, cooperative agreements or contracts to state, local, tribal and national organizations for preventing and reducing youth e-cigarette use.
  • Inform the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence-based policies to prevent youth e-cigarette use.