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Is Trump Administration Breaking Its Promise to America’s Kids and Families to Remove Flavored E-Cigarettes?

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
November 09, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Two months ago, on September 11, the Trump Administration made an unequivocal promise to America’s kids and families: It would take forceful action to protect kids and combat the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic by clearing the market of flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol. The Administration was absolutely right in stating, “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”

Two months later, the Administration is singing a different tune. On Friday, White House Domestic Policy Council director Joe Grogan called FDA regulation of tobacco products “a huge waste of time” – despite the fact tobacco use is the nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death – and President Trump spoke about protecting the vaping industry. This follows recent reports that the Administration is considering exempting menthol-flavored e-cigarettes and vape shops from its plan.

What changed? Media reports indicate there has been intense political pressure and lobbying by the e-cigarette industry to gut the Administration’s plan. If the Administration caves to these efforts, the e-cigarette industry and the political swamp will win and America’s kids will lose.

We urge the Administration to keep its promise to moms, dads and kids across the country and clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes. If it fails to do so, it will be responsible for allowing another addiction crisis to happen on its watch. It will give a green light to Juul and other e-cigarette companies to continue targeting kids with flavored products.

The Administration’s apparent backtracking comes as new studies published this week in JAMA show the youth e-cigarette epidemic is worse than ever and flavored products are fueling it. More than 5 million kids now use e-cigarettes, including over 1 in 4 high school students, and nearly one million kids use e-cigarettes daily, a strong sign of addiction. Most of these kids use flavored e-cigarettes, and Juul is by far the most popular youth brand, used by 59.1 percent of high school students.

The Administration’s backtracking makes it more critical than ever that Congress, states and cities act now to prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes – as well as other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. If the Administration won’t protect our kids, other policy makers at all levels must do so. The youth e-cigarette epidemic affects children, families and schools in every state and community. We cannot afford more delays when it comes to protecting our kids from this public health crisis.