Washington, D.C., February 28, 2020 – Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization focused on heart and brain health, released the following statement in advance of the House of Representatives’ scheduled vote today on the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act:
“Lawmakers have the opportunity to take bold action to protect our youth from the perils of tobacco use and the predatory marketing of an industry intent on addicting a new generation to nicotine. This bill squarely addresses the rising epidemic of youth tobacco use that is putting millions of our nation’s kids at risk for nicotine addiction.
“The bill’s comprehensive approach would pull all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, from the market within a year and require e-cigarette companies to pull all flavored products without pre-market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration from the market within 30 days. The bill would also prohibit tobacco companies from advertising their products to anyone under age 21 and implement strong restrictions on e-cigarette marketing.
“This bill is necessary in part because the Trump administration’s recent policy, which allows menthol pod-based e-cigarettes, flavored e-liquids used in open tank systems and flavored disposable e-cigarettes to remain on the market, falls well short of what is necessary to address this growing epidemic.
“We cannot emphasize enough the importance of including menthol cigarettes in this bill. Big Tobacco has successfully targeted minority populations with menthol products for decades, resulting in more than 70 percent of adolescent African-American smokers and more than half of adolescent Latino smokers using menthol. The cooling properties of menthol cigarettes also make them more appealing to youth; more than half of youth smokers age 12-17 use menthol cigarettes, compared to less than one-third of older adult smokers. These products have been shown to increase initiation, especially among youth, enhance the addictiveness and dependence on tobacco, and decrease successful quit attempts.
“We are grateful to Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) for introducing the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act and their tireless work to end tobacco use and nicotine addiction in this country. We urge swift passage of this important bill and stand firm against any attempts by the tobacco industry to weaken the bill’s intent.”
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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