Administration plan to address youth e-cigarette epidemic falls short

Today’s action may exacerbate health disparities

Washington D.C.- January 2, 2020 – The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is disappointed with the Administration’s failure to implement regulations to stop the youth e-cigarette epidemic, initially laid out in a September press conference.

The plan released today falls far short of the actions promised in that initial press conference by failing to remove menthol flavored products and exempting refillable pod systems in their entirety.

Data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that more than half of all high school students who use e-cigarettes select mint or menthol flavors. From 2018 to 2019, use of fruit flavors decreased among youth, while the use of mint and menthol flavors increased by 50%.

Exempting menthol-flavored products also has the potential to exacerbate existing smoking related health disparities, since more than 70% of African American e-cigarette users aged 12-17 report using menthol flavored products due to historical marketing practices targeting racial and ethnic minorities.

Furthermore, since some 15,000 e-liquid flavors are exempt in the policy, youth will still have ready access to these products from vape shops. More than 16% of youth surveyed obtained their e-cigarette products at vape shops, and many dessert and fruit flavors will still be available as e-liquids.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable mortality in the U.S. According to CDC, if smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today will die prematurely.

SOPHE will continue to advocate for Congress to prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes and stop the next generation of America’s youth from becoming addicted to flavored products.

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Contact: Cicily Hampton, PhD, MPA or Eryn Greaney