Washington, DC, January 1, 2020 – Media reports of the Trump administration’s soon-to-be-released response to the skyrocketing rates of youth e-cigarette use indicate that the administration policy will fall well short of what is necessary to address this growing epidemic. By allowing menthol flavors and flavored liquid nicotine used in open tank systems to remain on the market, the administration would leave a wide pathway for continued e-cigarette use among our nation’s children.
Such a policy would represent a big win for JUUL and other e-cigarette companies that have waged million-dollar marketing campaigns to addict kids to nicotine, an addictive drug that rewires the developing brain and poses significant health risks. The policy also would be a victory for vape shops over the interests of children. Kids currently using e-cigarettes or thinking about taking up the habit could simply transition to menthol products or open tank systems if they are left on the market.
Evidence of menthol’s dangerous appeal to youth tobacco users is overwhelming. More than half of youth ages 12-17 who smoke traditional cigarettes use menthol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Tobacco’s shameful record includes targeting youth and adults in minority and underserved populations with menthol products. The result is that African Americans, women, LGBT communities, people with mental illness and low-income populations are especially likely to use menthol. Keeping menthol e-cigarettes on the market would enable the tobacco industry to extend a dangerous legacy that began with menthol cigarettes.
While we appreciate the efforts of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to call attention to this public health crisis, the details of the administration’s plan being reported in the media fall far short of the President and First Lady’s commitment, and wouldn’t go nearly far enough to protect our nation’s children.
We urge Congress to finish the job by removing all flavors of all tobacco products, including menthol e-cigarettes, from the market.
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