New Data Shows Urgent Need for Pennsylvania 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 Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature to Push Forward to Address Youth E-cigarette ‘Epidemic’
(November 15, 2018) - HARRISBURG, Penn.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it intends 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 considering the startling new data released today on youth e-cigarette use, according to the American Lung Association. The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania encourages Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Legislature to address this epidemic by enacting a suite of tobacco control measures to reduce and prevent youth e-cigarette use.
“With today’s announcement, the FDA is taking a great step forward in the effort to reduce tobacco use and protect the nation’s health,” said Sarah Lawver, American Lung Association in Pennsylvania, Director of Advocacy. “However, this effort stands in the shadow of a new report showing skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes by kids. The American Lung Association calls on Governor Wolf and the State Legislature to take swift action to protect kids from this e-cigarette epidemic and a lifetime of nicotine addiction by enacting policies to raise the retail sales age of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 and to sustain funding for tobacco control programs and services from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed, with a 78 percent increase in high school students’ use of e-cigarettes – 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. 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. In the meantime, the Lung Association is calling on states including Pennsylvania to take action now.
To date, six states have enacted legislation to increase the retail sales age of all tobacco products to 21. A representative survey of more than 3,000 Pa. voters found that the Tobacco 21 initiative is popular with the majority of Pennsylvania voters. Additionally, in the next legislative session, efforts will be needed to protect funding for tobacco control programs and services in Pennsylvania. This past year, the Pennsylvania state legislature allocated an estimated $15.5 million for Tobacco Prevention and Control programs and services. However, due to Master Settlement Agreement funds being borrowed against previously to fill a budget gap, future funds continue to be at risk of not being appropriated to these lifesaving programs and services. The Lung Association recommends that funding for comprehensive tobacco control meets the levels recommended by the CDC at $140 million, to meet the needs of Pennsylvanians.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use and tobacco policies, contact the American Lung Association Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at [email protected] and to learn more about e-cigarettes visit Lung.org/ecigs.
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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