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Tobacco-Free Kids Supports Gov. Cuomo’s Call to End the Sale of All Flavored E-Cigarettes

Statement of Laurie Rubiner, Executive Vice President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 08, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call today for statewide legislation to end the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes in New York. Enactment of such legislation would be a huge victory for New York’s kids and protect them from nicotine addiction and other health risks associated with e-cigarette use. Gov. Cuomo unveiled the legislation as part of his 2020 state of the state address.

In light of the Trump Administration’s recent guidance, which left thousands of flavors on the market, states have no time to waste as the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gone from bad to worse – and Gov. Cuomo’s call to prohibit the sale of flavored e-cigarettes is just what we need. Driven by the steep rise of youth use of e-cigarettes, the percentage of high school students who use tobacco products is at its highest level in 19 years. This year, 31.2% of high school students and 12.5% of middle school students – 6.2 million kids altogether – used some type of tobacco product, according to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The number of kids who use e-cigarettes has skyrocketed to over 5.3 million, including more than one in four (27.5%) high school students, and recent trends indicate that nearly 5,000 more kids start using e-cigarettes each day.

The statistics in New York are just as concerning – from 2014 to 2018, e-cigarette use among New York high school students increased 160% (from 10.5% to 27.4%), and in 2018, 30.5% of New York high school students reported some form of tobacco product use.

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 time for waiting is over. Policymakers across the nation must act now to stop Juul and other e-cigarette companies from targeting our nation’s kids with flavored, nicotine-loaded products that are addicting a new generation and threaten decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use.

The legislation would put into law the emergency regulations Gov. Cuomo announced in September but that have been held up in court. We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo to pass this legislation and end the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

We encourage the governor to include language to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes, in his Executive Budget. The legislature should move quickly to enact these important proposals and make sure that all flavored tobacco products are included. 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.