Legislation to Protect Youth from Flavored Tobacco Reintroduced in Congress
American Heart Association Joins Other Organizations in Supporting the SAFE for Kids Act
Washington, D.C., March 5, 2019 – The American Heart Association issued the following statement regarding the release of the Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-cigarettes (SAFE) for Kids Act, a bill sponsored by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), that would remove all flavors in cigars and electronic cigarettes.
"We strongly support the SAFE Kids Act, which takes action to prohibit the tobacco industry from relentlessly targeting youth and adolescents with candy- and fruit-flavored products. These restrictions are urgent, with e-cigarette use having jumped by 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students last year, largely because of flavors that appeal to youth. This bill also addresses the threat of flavored cigars, which serve as a gateway to other tobacco products.
“Additional actions are needed to fully eliminate the threat that flavored tobacco products, including menthol, pose to our nation’s youth. We strongly urge that menthol finally be eliminated as a flavor in traditional cigarettes. Tobacco companies target African American, LGBTQ and other populations with menthol products, which have been shown to increase initiation, especially among youth, increase progression to regular smoking and enhance the addictiveness and dependence of tobacco.
“In addition, the FDA should prohibit companies from marketing their products in ways that appeal to kids. Without immediate and urgent action pertaining to flavored tobacco products, the epidemic of e-cigarettes will continue to undo decades of progress in tobacco control,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.
Last year, the FDA announced proposed steps to limit youth access to flavored tobacco products. In response to this announcement, the American Heart Association urged the FDA to take immediate additional steps to strengthen its crackdown on tobacco companies’ aggressive targeting of children. In addition to supporting swift removal of flavored e-cigarettes and cigars from the market, which this legislation aims to do, we suggested the FDA take the following steps:
- Prohibit all marketing practices, including those on social media, that are shown to appeal to children;
- Suspend online sales of e-cigarettes until effective age verification mechanisms are established; and
- Enforce rules that prevent the sale of products that were not commercially marketed as of August 8, 2016, or were modified after that date, without premarket review.
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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