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New WHO Guidance Calls for Urgent Action to Address Growing Youth E-Cigarette Use

Statement of Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 14, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New guidance released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) rightly calls for urgent action by governments around the world to address rising rates of youth e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction.

In many countries, including the United States, youth e-cigarette use has become a serious public health problem. As the WHO points out, factors driving youth e-cigarette use include aggressive, youth-oriented marketing and thousands of kid-friendly flavors.

There is no doubt that e-cigarettes are marketed in ways that appeal to youth and that the aggressive tactics of companies like British American Tobacco and other e-cigarette makers are putting kids at risk. A recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on social media marketing by tobacco companies found that British American Tobacco has generated one billion views on social media for its Vuse e-cigarette brand. Nearly half of the audience for Vuse marketing content on social media is under the age of 25. From flavored products to partnerships with influencers and sports brands, e-cigarettes are being tailor made for young people.

While e-cigarettes have been promoted as a way to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, the WHO finds that “e-cigarettes as consumer products are not shown to be effective for quitting tobacco use at the population level.”

The WHO calls on governments that ban the sale of e-cigarettes to ensure effective implementation of such policies. For countries that allow the sale of e-cigarettes, the WHO urges governments to implement strict regulations, including prohibiting the sale of flavored products – a position strongly supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. In the United States, where over two million youth currently use e-cigarettes, nearly 90 percent of youth e-cigarette users use flavored products.

The WHO guidance sends a clear message to countries around the world: the time is now to protect kids from e-cigarettes and stop these products from addicting a new generation.