Washington, D.C., April 14, 2016 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the 2015 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 new survey revealed that there has been no decline in overall youth tobacco use since 2011, and that for the second consecutive year, e-cigarette use among young Americans appears to be increasing. The survey comes just a week before the two-year anniversary of the FDA release of the proposed tobacco deeming rule that has yet to be finalized:
“Nearly two years after the FDA put forward the tobacco deeming rule, we are still calling for it to be finalized. We have urged and implored them to finalize these regulations to no avail. We won’t stop pushing until the final rule is issued. The health of the next generation of Americans is at stake. Further delay will mean that more kids take up tobacco, putting themselves at risk for heart disease, stroke and early death.
This Youth Tobacco Survey speaks volumes about why the Tobacco Deeming Rule is so urgently needed. The CDC found that youths are continuing to use tobacco at high rates, and that there has been no decline in their overall tobacco use since 2011. In fact, the survey found that out of the 4.7 million middle and high school students who used tobacco in 2015, more than 2.3 million of them used two or more tobacco products. This is a stark reminder that while this rule is being delayed, unregulated tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, continue to increase in popularity among U.S. teens. In 2014, 2.46 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. This year that number jumped to 3 million.
For nearly two years the rule that could bring e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products under federal oversight has languished in an unacceptable bureaucratic limbo. With no rule in place, the door has been left wide open for more tobacco advertising and marketing aimed at luring our kids into taking up a deadly habit. This survey suggests that their efforts have been successful. No form of tobacco use is safe. These products pose a public health risk, especially to vulnerable young people.
The delay has also allowed for harmful riders in appropriations bills. The House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for FY2017 currently includes one such rider. It would prevent the agency from moving forward with the deeming rule unless it completely exempts so-called premium and large cigars, including some inexpensive and flavored cigars that are popular among kids, from federal regulation. The association urges members of the House Appropriations Committee to oppose any efforts to weaken FDA’s authority over these products.
Before we lose our foothold in the fight against tobacco, the administration must act now to release the final deeming rule. There is simply no excuse to hold up the rule with so many lives at stake.”
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