New Youth Tobacco Data Highlights Concerning Use Disparities, Critical Need for FDA to End Sale of All Flavored Products

Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the full data from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which underscores the urgent need for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

In response to the new data, American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement:

“The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey reveals extremely discouraging information about the continued trend of tobacco use in high school and middle school students, as well as how youth get these products, why they use them and how much they want to quit. It is critical that the FDA steps up to protect our children from nictoine addiction and that we make sure they have the resources to help them quit.

“The new report data also mirror the unfortunate adult tobacco use health disparities that impact people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, transgender, and people in psychological distress. While the current overall high school tobacco use rate is 13.4%, it is 17.4% for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (versus 11.4% of heterosexual), 24.5% of students identifying as transgender (versus 11.7% of non-transgender students); and 17.6% of students reporting severe psychological distress (versus 8.3% with no distress).

“Youth use of flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes remain unacceptably high. Close to 40% of students who smoke use menthol cigarettes, and close to 45% use flavored cigars. Two proposed rules, one to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and the other to end the sale of flavored cigars, are undergoing White House and interagency review. We urge the Biden Administration to issue the proposed rule in April as they committed to last year, and to finalize it before the end of 2022.

“We see continued trends of youth preferring flavored tobacco products and disposable devices like Puff Bar. Out of the students who currently use tobacco products, four out of five (79%) used a flavored product in the last 30 days and 54% of students who used e-cigarettes used a disposable e-cigarette device.

“We are very encouraged by a bipartisan legislative agreement, announced this week, that will expand the FDA’s authority so that it includes all synthetic nicotine products. Currently, FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products does not have authority over products using synthetic nicotine. Puff Bar, the most popular e-cigarette brand among youth, took advantage of this loophole and continues to sell e-cigarettes in many kid-friendly flavors like peach ice, mango and strawberry banana.

“We now need the FDA to take action to remove e-cigarettes and other tobacco products from the market that did not meet its public health standard. While the FDA issued marketing denial orders to 323 companies, it has yet to take action on most e-cigarette products with the highest market share, including Juul and the most commonly used Vuse products, or any menthol e-cigarettes.

“Every day that these extremely addictive products remain on the market, our kids are at risk. We cannot afford further delay. It is urgent that the FDA follow the science and act to remove all remaining flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and cigars, from the marketplace. As we await federal action, we continue to urge state and local officials to immediately pass laws to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.”

The Lung Association has resources to prevent tobacco use and help youth quit, specifically designed for schools, parents and teens, including The Vape Talk, our Vape-Free Schools Initiative, Not On Tobacco, and more resources available online.

For media interested in speaking with an expert, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or at 312-940-7001.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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