New Study Confirms Continued Unacceptably High Youth Use of Tobacco Products
As Final Deeming Regulation Remains Stalled at the White House, Tobacco Industry Champions on Capitol Hill Move to Weaken FDA’s Ability to Protect Kids
(April 14, 2016) - CHICAGO
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A new study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a continued increase in use of e-cigarettes by middle and high school youth, and no significant decline in teen cigarette, cigar and smokeless tobacco use from 2014 to 2015. The findings – which show reductions in tobacco use among young people have slowed—come while the deeming regulation that would protect kids from tobacco by giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products remains stalled at the White House. At the same time, the House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations is attempting to undermine a pending regulation giving FDA authority over cigars, e-cigarettes and hookah unless the agency excludes certain cigars from basic oversight.
The CDC study, which summarizes results from the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, was published in CDC's April 15 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The survey found that in 2015, an estimated 4.7 million students – more than 3.8 million in high school and 880,000 in middle school—reported use of a tobacco product on one or more days of the past 30 days.
In 2015, e-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among middle- and high-school students. E-cigarette use among middle school students increased from 3.9 percent to 5.3 percent from 2014 to 2015. There were no significant reductions in middle or high school student use of cigarettes, or cigars or from 2014 to 2015. The study also showed that about half of these youth tobacco users use more than one tobacco product.
Continued lack of progress in achieving meaningful reduction in youth tobacco use again highlights the urgent need for President Obama's leadership in ensuring his Administration finalizes the "deeming" regulation that would give the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products the same authority it currently has over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah and other unregulated tobacco products.
"April 24 will mark the two-year year anniversary from when FDA's proposed rule was released, and over five years after FDA first announced its plan to oversee cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah," said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "It is long past time for the White House to act to protect our children from all tobacco products. While the Administration is stuck in neutral, the tobacco industry and their champions on Capitol Hill are in overdrive, working to stop the FDA from protecting our kids."
The tobacco industry has also made repeated attempts through its allies in Congress to weaken the Tobacco Control Act, although so far all have been unsuccessful. The most recent attempt includes adding a provision to the House of Representative's Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for this upcoming fiscal year that would prohibit FDA from moving forward with the entire deeming regulation unless certain types of cigars are exempted from basic FDA oversight. Last year, the House attempted to grandfather in thousands of unregulated tobacco products currently on the market, such as candy-flavored cigars and e-cigarettes, significantly weakening FDA's ability to protect the nation's youth from these products.
"The attempts to weaken the Tobacco Control Act are quite simply attempts to put profits over our children's health," Wimmer said. "To protect a tobacco product known to be harmful to health is not only reckless, but fiscally short-sighted, when you consider the monumental health costs caused by tobacco use."
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act), which became law in 2009, gave FDA immediate authority over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. The Tobacco Control Act also gave FDA the ability to then assert authority or "deem" jurisdiction over all other tobacco products, including cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah and pipe tobacco—the next generation of tobacco products that are being used to target kids. The tobacco industry, especially cigar, e-cigarette and hookah manufacturers, continue to use candy and fruit flavors to appeal to kids.
The U.S. Surgeon General has determined that nicotine—which is found in all tobacco products, including in most e-cigarettes—has a negative impact on adolescent brain development, and has been associated with lasting cognitive and behavioral impairments, including effects on working memory and attention.
The CDC study also found that one in four kids still use at least one tobacco product in 2015, and there was no progress made towards reducing this alarmingly high rate of youth tobacco use between 2014 and 2015. The American Lung Association highlighted this disturbing trend as part of its "2016 State of Tobacco Control" report.
"No progress was made on reducing youth cigarette use from 2014 to 2015, and overall youth tobacco use continues to be unacceptably high. We still have almost half a million people dying from tobacco each year," Wimmer said. "FDA having authority over all tobacco products is essential if we are to eliminate youth use of all tobacco products, and end the tobacco epidemic once and for all."
For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use and tobacco policies, contact the American Lung Association at Media@Lung.org or 312-801-7628.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.