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Tobacco-Free Kids Supports D.C. Effort to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 17, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports legislation introduced today by members of the D.C. Council to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in the District of Columbia. Passage of such legislation would be a tremendous victory for D.C. kids and will protect them from nicotine addiction and other health risks associated with e-cigarette use. The time is now to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic, and prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes is exactly what we need.

According to newly-released data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gotten even worse in the last year. E-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019 compared to 11.75% in 2017 and 20.8% in 2018. Altogether more than 5 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. And the evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes have fueled this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month, and 70% cite flavors as the reason for their use.

The 2019 NYTS also showed that youth use of menthol and mint flavors in particular has skyrocketed. The percentage of high school e-cigarette users who reported using mint and menthol flavors increased to 63.9% in 2019, from 42.3% in 2017 and 51.2% in 2018.

Meanwhile, the recent spate of serious lung illnesses being reported across the country underscore the urgency of acting now to protect our kids and, indeed, the health of all Americans.

While the FDA stated last week that they will take long-overdue regulatory action to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market, the tobacco industry will do everything it can to delay, weaken and defeat the FDA’s proposal and is certain to challenge it in court. That means it’s more important than ever for cities and states to protect kids by prohibiting the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes.

This important measure can be made even more effective if it is expanded to include all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. Over half of all youth smokers use menthol cigarettes, and youth in communities of color use these products at even more alarming rates. These products have plagued these communities for decades. We strongly encourage the D.C. Council to add these products to the legislation to make an even more powerful positive impact on public health.