Washington, D.C., June 15, 2017 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products. The survey revealed that from 2015-2016, the number of middle and high school current tobacco users decreased (from 4.7 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016), and e-cigarette use among these students declined for the first time (from 3 million in 2015 to just under 2.2 million in 2016):
“Our association is pleased to see the good news coming out of this year’s National Youth Tobacco Survey – especially the reduction in youth e-cigarette use for the first time. Tobacco control measures and education efforts played an important part in this historic decline.
Unfortunately, the funding for CDC prevention and cessation programs, which helped contribute to the drop in e-cigarette use, have been put in danger by both the President’s budget and the threats to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund in the Affordable Care Act. Today’s survey findings show that this funding is critically needed and must remain strong in FY18, so CDC programs that educate the public on the harms of tobacco can continue full steam ahead.
While we welcome this reduction in rates of youth e-cigarette use, we’re concerned that e-cigarettes remain the most commonly used product by young Americans, and kids are still using tobacco at high rates.
Fortunately, the tobacco deeming rule, issued by the FDA last year, protects Americans from the dangers of tobacco, including prohibiting all tobacco sales to kids under age 18. However, the FDA’s recent three-month delay of the rule’s compliance dates pushes back the much-needed warning labels for advertisements and product packaging, as well as the product approval process. This process is critical because it gives the FDA the ability to review tobacco products, particularly those with flavors that may attract kids, and removes products deemed harmful to public health from the market. The delay could counteract the progress made and lead to a skyrocketing number of kids at risk for heart disease, stroke or even an early death due to tobacco use. We urge the FDA today to move forward with the deeming rule and to take no further action that would weaken it.
The American Heart Association firmly believes strong federal oversight of all tobacco products coupled with tobacco control programs and education is absolutely essential if we are to steer kids away from taking up smoking and vaping. We look forward to working with the FDA and CDC to continue to fight youth tobacco use in our nation and build on the progress made last year.”
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