Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The results of the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today show that youth e-cigarette use remains an urgent public health problem in the United States, and it continues to be driven by the widespread availability of flavored products that the FDA should have removed from the market by now. The survey shows that 2.55 million middle and high school students reported current (past 30-day) e-cigarette use in 2022, including 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students. 85% of youth e-cigarette users reported using flavored products, with fruit, candy/desserts/other sweets, mint and menthol reported as the most popular flavors.
It is unacceptable that over 2.5 million kids still use e-cigarettes when there is a clear solution to the problem: Eliminate all flavored e-cigarettes. The FDA has the power to do so, but it has repeatedly failed to act and left our nation’s kids at risk. In one of its most startling findings, the new survey indicates that kids are using a wider range of flavored e-cigarette brands. This is further evidence that playing whac-a-mole and cracking down on only some flavored products and brands will not end this crisis. As long as any flavored e-cigarettes remain on the market, kids will shift to them. That includes menthol-flavored products, which are used by more than a quarter of youth who use flavored e-cigarettes. Only the elimination of all flavored e-cigarettes can end the youth e-cigarette epidemic once and for all. It is important to note that because none have been authorized by the FDA, all flavored e-cigarettes now for sale are illegal and subject to FDA enforcement action to remove them from the market. The FDA should act on that authority.
In another troubling finding, an alarming percentage of youth e-cigarette users report frequent or daily use – 46% of high school users report frequent use (on at least 20 days a month) and 30.1% report daily use. This is powerful evidence that kids aren’t just experimenting with e-cigarettes, but becoming addicted to the high-nicotine products now dominating the market.
While youth e-cigarette use remains a serious problem, there has been important progress since 2019, when youth use peaked at 27.5% of high school students and 5.4 million middle and high school students altogether used these products. This progress is the result of a number of factors, including policy action, especially at the state and local level, to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and the implementation of public education and cessation efforts. In addition, restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic impacted youth e-cigarette use.
The FDA must act without further delay to clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, the FDA has repeatedly missed deadlines set by a federal court and Congress to act, leaving flavored e-cigarettes widely available. To protect our kids, the FDA must swiftly complete its review of e-cigarette marketing applications and deny applications for all flavored e-cigarettes, including menthol-flavored products.
States and cities must also continue their growing efforts to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, as well as other flavored tobacco products. State and local action is as critical as ever given the uncertainty about what the FDA will do and when.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey is conducted annually by the CDC and the FDA. The results were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids