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New Data Shows Urgent Need for Maine to Act to Protect Kids from E-cigarettes as FDA Announces Plans to Move Forward with Ending the Sale of Menthol Cigarettes and Flavored Cigars

American Lung Association Urges Governor -Elect Mills and the Maine Legislature to Push Forward to Address Youth E-cigarette ‘Epidemic’

(November 15, 2018) - AUGUSTA, Maine

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Solomon
[email protected]
(516) 680-8927

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it intends to take a historic step forward in reducing the death and disease caused by tobacco use in our nation. The agency announced a multipronged approach on tobacco: its intent to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, while also implementing restrictions on e-cigarette sales in certain locations. However, FDA’s response to protecting youth from e-cigarettes will not be sufficient in light of the startling new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on skyrocketing youth e-cigarette use.  The American Lung Association in Maine encourages Governor-Elect Mills and the Maine Legislature to address this epidemic by restoring recent cuts to Maine’s tobacco control program and fully funding efforts to reduce and prevent youth e-cigarette use.

“With today’s announcement, the FDA is taking an important step forward in the effort to reduce tobacco use and protect the nation’s health,” said Lance Boucher, American Lung Association, Senior Division Director, State Public Policy.  “However, this effort stands in the shadow of a new report showing significantly increased use of e-cigarettes by kids. The American Lung Association calls on Governor-Elect Mills and the legislature to take swift action to protect kids from this e-cigarette epidemic and a lifetime of nicotine addiction by fully funding Maine’s tobacco control program at the recommended level, as well as closing loopholes in Maine’s flavored cigar ban and extending it to all tobacco products.”

The data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, with a 78 percent increase in high school students’ use of e-cigarettes since last year – meaning that one in five high school students are using e-cigarettes. It also shows a nearly 50 percent increase in the use of e-cigarettes by middle school students since 2017. While reducing youth access to e-cigarettes is an important step, the Lung Association continues to urge the FDA to use its full authority to protect kids, including ending the sales of all flavored tobacco products, including all flavored e-cigarettes, from the marketplace. And in the meantime, the Lung Association is calling on states including Maine to take action now.

In the 2017 biennial budget the Maine Legislature substantially cut tobacco control funding to a near historic low of $5.3 million, well short of the United States CDC recommended level of $15.9 million.  The American Lung Association strongly urges the full funding of the program to best combat the tobacco epidemic in Maine.  Additionally, in 2009, Maine became the first state to institute flavor restrictions, banning the sale of flavored cigars.  However, this legislation included an exemption for products currently on the market as long as no material changes are made to the cigar's flavoring, packaging or labeling.  For the ease of enforcement, and ensuring these products are not made available to kids, the flavor restrictions should be expanded to all tobacco products and exemptions removed.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use and tobacco policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927 and to learn more about e-cigarettes visit Lung.org/ecigs.

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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 coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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