“Updated recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on prevention and cessation of tobacco use in children and adolescents are strongly welcomed. Tobacco products are highly addictive, and also harmful to the growing bodies of youth, including permanently damaging their lungs. As our nation grapples with a youth e-cigarette epidemic and one in four youth using at least one tobacco product, primary care physicians are at the front lines of clinical efforts to prevent youth tobacco use and to help youth who are addicted to quit tobacco for good. However, to reflect the urgent need for primary care providers to talk with and assist their pediatric patients who are addicted to tobacco products about quitting, the American Lung Association urges tobacco cessation counseling to be graded separately from medications and receive a ‘B’ grade, indicating the treatment is effective, to ensure more widespread action by providers. Currently the USPSTF proposes the ‘I’ grade, indicating more research is needed and the treatment should not be used in the meantime.
“The single best way to end tobacco addiction in both youth and adults is to prevent youth and young adults from ever starting its use in the first place. To that end, the American Lung Association has long advocated for policies to prevent youth tobacco use, including prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, increasing the age of sale of tobacco products and for strong state tobacco prevention programs.
“Unfortunately, no pharmacotherapy has been found by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe and effective in helping addicted youth end their tobacco addiction. Since our youth are at risk of a lifetime of addiction to nicotine and tobacco products as a result of the very real and growing youth e-cigarette epidemic, the Lung Association strongly encourages the FDA to use its authorities under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act and the Pediatric Research Equity Act to require and incentivize the study of tobacco cessation medication in youth so that evidence can be gathered and cessation treatments are made accessible to young tobacco users trying to quit.”
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 education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. 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.