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Tobacco-Free Kids Supports Legislation to Bolster CDC Efforts to Address Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
October 11, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act, legislation just re-introduced in Congress to authorize additional funds for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The CDC has a critical role to play in addressing this epidemic, and this legislation recognizes it needs additional resources given the severity of this public health emergency. 

We applaud the sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), for their leadership in working to reverse this epidemic and prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation of kids.

According to the recently released results of CDC’s and FDA’s 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), more than 2 million middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the first half of this year, even as many schools remained closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  In a clear sign of the addictiveness of the products now dominating the market, an alarming percentage of youth e-cigarette users report frequent or daily use – 43.6% of high school users report frequent use (on at least 20 days a month) and 27.6% report daily use. A growing number of studies show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become smokers, and many are low-risk youth who would not have otherwise smoked cigarettes. We must take forceful action now to reverse this epidemic and prevent e-cigarettes from eroding the decades-long progress our nation has made in reducing youth tobacco use.

The PROTECT Act authorizes $100 million in funding per year for five years for a CDC initiative to address this epidemic. These funds would be used to:

  • Enhance research on youth and young adult use of e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products.
  • Develop guidance for healthcare professionals and educators in intervening with and treating youth and young adults who use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Identify effective messages to prevent and reduce the use of e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products by youth and young adults.
  • Identify and improve access to and delivery of effective cessation services to youth and young adults. 
  • Educate the public about the rapidly evolving tobacco product landscape and the harmful effects of e-cigarette use and other tobacco products on youth and young adults.
  • Provide funds to state, local, and island health departments and tribal organizations for preventing and reducing youth and young adult e-cigarette use and emerging products.
  • Evaluate state, community, and school-based strategies to prevent youth and young adults from using e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products and to direct current users to tobacco cessation services.