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Tobacco-Free Kids Supports Gov. Cuomo’s Inclusion of Menthol E-Cigarettes in Emergency Action to Address the Youth Epidemic

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 26, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – We strongly support New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to include menthol e-cigarettes in his emergency action ending the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes in New York. The inclusion of menthol e-cigarettes guarantees that the policy will be comprehensive and won’t allow Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers to continue targeting and addicting kids with any of their flavored e-cigarettes.

Today’s announcement is urgently needed. 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 11.7% in 2017 and 20.8% in 2018. Altogether 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 linked to e-cigarette use being reported across the country underscores the urgency of acting now to protect our kids and, indeed, the health of all Americans.

The only way to stem the youth e-cigarette epidemic is to remove all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol. We also urge policy makers at all levels – including the New York City Council and the New York Legislature – to enact comprehensive prohibitions on ALL flavored e-cigarettes, as well as other flavored tobacco products.