American Heart Association Praises Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Youth E-Cigarette Use

New Report Stresses Need to Address Public Health Threat

December 08, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., December 8, 2016American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments today on the Surgeon General’s report, E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults.” The report examines the growing use of these products by youth under the age of 25 in the U.S. and makes policy recommendations for how to fight this public health threat:

“The Surgeon General’s call to extinguish e-cigarette use among young Americans deserves high praise and fervent support.  This first-ever federal report on vaping products puts a stamp of validation on what our association has been saying for years: the use of tobacco by our young people—no matter what form it takes—demands our urgent attention. The actions we take today will help protect young lives from being tragically lost to cardiovascular disease—our nation’s no. 1 killer.

This report directly illustrates that kids are vaping at distressingly high rates, and some research highlighted even shows a connection between e-cigarettes and future cigarette smoking. The report also points to the troubling fact that nicotine exposure can harm adolescents’ brain development. Like the Surgeon General, our association is equally committed to closely scrutinizing the latest research as we continue to assess the impact of e-cigarette vapor and aerosol effect on the health of young Americans.

The e-cigarette industry is relentless in its pursuit of new users at an early age, and the report underscores how successful it has been in attracting this demographic.  Like the tobacco giants that preceded them, e-cigarette companies, many of which are by owned by Big Tobacco, are deploying despicable tactics of celebrity endorsements, cartoons and suggestive themes in ads to pitch their products.  E-cigarettes are further cloaked in new technology and flavors that appeal to today’s young people. We simply cannot let these marketing tactics renormalize tobacco use in our society today. In light of this report, the association renews its call for tougher marketing and advertising regulations.

Fortunately, the final tobacco deeming rule, released this May, will help to rein in the e-cigarette industry. This rule is an important roadblock for many young Americans starting down the dangerous road to lifelong tobacco addiction. We urge the incoming administration and new Congress to heed the recommendations from today’s report and preserve the final tobacco deeming rule.

In addition to preserving the deeming rule, the report offers numerous policy recommendations for addressing youth e-cigarette use. Namely, it suggests that e-cigarettes be included in smoke-free policies as well as restricting youth access to e-cigarettes in retail settings, licensing retailers, and establishing specific package requirements. The recent HUD smoke-free public housing rule was a step in the right direction to shield public housing residents, especially children, from second-hand smoke. But this report shows why it should be expanded to include e-cigarettes to protect residents from the effects of aerosol. It was reported just today by the Surgeon General that secondhand aerosol is not harmless. This is all the more reason why we must strengthen our country’s smoke-free laws and put more of these policies in place.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. It’s very distressing that e-cigarette use among young Americans is so significant that the Surgeon General felt the need to issue a report like his predecessor Dr. Luther Terry did more than half a century ago. The association hopes this new report serves as a similar rallying cry against e-cigarette use among young Americans. We look forward to working alongside the new administration and Congress on the Surgeon General’s recommendations to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to live tobacco-free.”

###

ContactAbbey Dively (202) 785-7905 abbey.dively@heart.org