WASHINGTON,D.C.--Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement regarding the sharp uptick in e-cigarette use among youth reported in the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey:
“America’s youth are facing a public health crisis that threatens an entire generation: skyrocketing use of nicotine products, brought on by access to flavored products in particular. Use of these products, including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, and cigars, put our youth at risk for a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
E-cigarettes present an important, potentially lifesaving opportunity to help currently addicted adult smokers quit combustible cigarettes. But in trying to build this off-ramp from a deadly addiction, we cannot let e-cigarettes become an on-ramp for kids to enter a lifetime of nicotine addiction and tobacco use.
New data from the National Youth Tobacco survey show the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes almost doubling in just the last year. But we can use a targeted approach to tackle this challenge: The data also show that kids not only choose flavored products more often than adults do, but also that flavors are a major reason they use these products in the first place. Flavors increase the likelihood of kids progressing from experimentation to regular use, and a portion of them will go on to use combustible tobacco products, with the huge added dangers of tobacco-related disease.
FDA’s enforcement efforts and policy framework would restrict access to most flavored e-cigarettes and limit the chances of youth beginning to use these products, while ensuring the products are available to adult smokers as an alternative to combustible cigarettes.
Our obligation at HHS is always to the public health, and we believe FDA’s goals strike the right public health balance in addressing the multifaceted challenge we have before us today.”