New Study on E-Cigarette Sales Demonstrates Why Congress Must Not Weaken FDA Authority Over Tobacco Products

Statement of American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer in Response to "National and State Trends in Sales of Cigarettes and E-Cigarettes, U.S., 2011–2015,” published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine:

"This important new study looking at cigarette and e-cigarette sales from 2011 to 2015 clearly shows why Congress must not weaken U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over tobacco products. The study, using Nielsen company retail scanner data, shows that sales of e-cigarettes increased dramatically from 2011 to 2015. The study also looked at state-specific data on different segments of the e-cigarette market from 2014 to 2015, and found huge percentage sales increases in some states for certain e-cigarette products.

"These data on e-cigarette sales are consistent with the huge increase in e-cigarette use we've seen in the U.S., especially among our youth. National Youth Tobacco Survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2011 to 2015 show that e-cigarette use among high school students increased by an alarming 900 percent from 2011 to 2015, and e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among teens. Tobacco use is a serious addiction, and our nation's youth is at risk for a lifetime of addiction to tobacco use - the nation's leading cause of preventable death and disease.

"The study also showed that while cigarette sales declined slightly from 2011 to 2015, there were still 11.2 billion packs of cigarettes sold in 2015. This amounts to 34 packs of cigarettes for every adult and child in the United States, and is a good reminder of how far we still have to go to eliminate cigarette smoking in this country.

"This study comes at an opportune time as Congress is currently considering several provisions that would significantly weaken FDA authority over tobacco products. One of these changes would grandfather in thousands of unregulated tobacco products currently on the market, including e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah. This would mean that FDA would no longer have the authority to review the health harms or take action on the thousands of brands of products, including many flavored tobacco products like fruit, bubble gum and gummi bears that have been proven to be especially attractive to kids.

"The tobacco industry and particularly the tobacco company Altria, formerly known as Philip Morris, have taken to back rooms in Congress to lead the push to grandfather in these products. A September 2016 article published in The New York Times reported that Altria essentially provided the language for this provision to a member of Congress who then introduced legislation that used the exact same industry produced and approved language. Big Tobacco simply should not be writing legislation that is designed to protect public health.

"This type of influence by an industry whose products kill over 480,000 American each year should be alarming to the American public. Given the dramatic increase in e-cigarette sales this study shows, it is no wonder Altria is pushing so hard to grandfather e-cigarettes and other tobacco products and protect them from FDA oversight. The bottom line is Congress must reject these tobacco industry attempts to undermine FDA's authority under the Tobacco Control Act. The health of our nation is at risk, and without these protections, we're setting up our youth to become the next generation hooked on tobacco and experiencing the harm of tobacco caused death and disease. We simply must do more to protect the health of our nation's youth.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about tobacco use and quitting smoking, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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