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Trump Administration Must Reject Efforts by Juul and Other Companies to Sabotage Plan to Remove Flavored E-Cigarettes from Market

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 14, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – With new data showing the youth e-cigarette epidemic is worse than ever, the Trump Administration must act without delay to finalize and implement its plan to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. The Administration must side with America’s kids and families over tobacco companies like Juul that are addicting and endangering our kids with their sweet-flavored, high-nicotine products. The Administration said on September 11 that the FDA would issue a final policy within weeks to remove all flavored e-cigarettes – including mint and menthol flavors – from the market and enforce it a month later. The FDA must meet these deadlines and reject efforts by Juul and other companies to sabotage this policy. We cannot afford more delays in confronting this worsening public health crisis.

It is reprehensible that just days later, Juul and other e-cigarette makers are seeking to weaken, delay and legally challenge the new policy so they can keep kid-friendly flavors on the market. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that Juul is seeking to keep mint and menthol flavors on the market despite skyrocketing youth use of these flavors. According to newly-released data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), the percentage of high school e-cigarette users who reported using mint and menthol flavors increased from 51.2% in 2018 to 63.9% in 2019. The evidence is clear that if only some e-cigarette flavors are banned, kids will migrate to other flavors. The FDA must remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market, including mint and menthol.

The 2019 NYTS shows that the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gotten even worse in the past year. E-cigarette use among high school students rose from 20.8 percent in 2018 to 27.5 percent in 2019, meaning that more than 1 in 4 high schoolers use e-cigarettes. A total of 5 million U.S. kids now use e-cigarettes. Juul caused this epidemic and cannot be allowed to make excuses, such as blaming it on counterfeit products.

First Lady Melania Trump was absolutely right when she recently tweeted, “Data shows a high usage of flavored e-cigarettes among our youth. It’s our responsibility as parents to understand the dangers that come from vaping. Our Administration supports the removal of flavored e-cigarettes from stores until they’re approved by [the FDA].” The First Lady also tweeted, “I am deeply concerned about the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in our children. We need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated, “The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities.” The Administration explicitly stated that this policy would include mint and menthol flavors, leaving only tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes on the market.

The Administration must stand up to Juul and swiftly implement this critically needed and long-overdue policy to protect America’s kids.