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

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
January 21, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call today in his executive budget for statewide legislation to end the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes in New York. Passage of such legislation would be a tremendous victory for New York’s kids and protect them from nicotine addiction and other health risks associated with e-cigarette use. Gov. Cuomo continues to be a leader in combating tobacco use, especially among kids.

Gov. Cuomo’s budget also includes important additional provisions to crack down on tobacco use, still the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. We support these proposals, which would ban the sale of all tobacco products at pharmacies, prohibit the use of coupons and other price discounts by the industry, and increase penalties on retailers who continue to sell to youth.

We encourage the legislature to pass these policies promptly and to also include language to end the sale of 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.

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 equally 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. We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and the legislature to pass this legislation as quickly as possible while continuing the fight to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.