Raising the Tobacco Age to 21 Won’t… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Raising the Tobacco Age to 21 Won’t Stop the Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic and Is Not a Substitute for Eliminating the Flavored Products that Lure Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – By raising the federal tobacco age to 21 without also prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes, the budget agreement announced today in Congress will not stop the youth e-cigarette epidemic. If it shifts attention from efforts to ban flavored e-cigarettes, it will play into the hands of tobacco companies Altria and Juul, which have supported raising the sale age to 21 as the solution to the problem.

Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a positive step, but it is not a substitute for prohibiting the flavored e-cigarettes that are luring and addicting our kids. Juul and Altria have hijacked the tobacco 21 issue for their own nefarious reasons as a shield to fight efforts to prohibit flavored e-cigarettes. It is deeply disappointing that the budget agreement gives these tobacco companies what they want without addressing the crisis caused by flavored e-cigarettes. To reverse the e-cigarette epidemic, policy makers must prohibit flavored e-cigarettes and cannot be limited by what the tobacco industry says is acceptable.

The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes are driving the youth epidemic. Most youth e-cigarette users use flavored products and cite flavors as a key reason for their use. As long as flavored e-cigarettes remain available, kids will find ways to get them and this epidemic will continue. Altria, Juul and other e-cigarette manufacturers know this, which is why they are pulling out all the stops to fight efforts to prohibit all flavored e-cigarettes.

Over 5.3 million kids now use e-cigarettes and this epidemic gets worse every day, with recent trends indicating that nearly 5,000 more kids start using e-cigarettes each day. We will not solve this crisis without prohibiting flavored e-cigarettes. This agreement in no way alters the need for the Trump Administration, Congress and states and cities to prohibit the flavored products that are addicting our children.