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May 5, 2016 Liz Voyles, Big Cities Health Coalition
Big Cities Health Coalition Applauds New U.S. Food and Drug Administration Regulations on E-Cigarettes, California’s Passage of Tobacco 21
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors today. While the rule is a significant step in the right direction, it did fall short of being as aggressive as possible to curbing youth tobacco use.
“The new rule put forth by the FDA to ban e-cigarettes for youth will prevent millions of teens from getting hooked on tobacco products,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “Our coalition members are working to prevent tobacco-related deaths in U.S. cities every day, and these regulations will bolster those efforts. We urge the FDA to continue its work by closing the loopholes that still make tobacco products attractive to youths as it continues to implement the Tobacco Control Act.”
The new FDA regulations will prohibit e-cigarette sales to youth under 18, among other restrictions that make it more difficult to sell tobacco products to kids. However, the FDA did not act to block the marketing of e-cigarettes or the use of sweet e-cigarette flavors, which have been shown to strongly appeal to children, and which several big city jurisdictions have already eliminated.
E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among youth. According to the federal government’s 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, there was a 10-fold increase in e-cigarette use among high school students between 2011 and 2015.
Also, today California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that raises the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and another bill that dramatically tightens restrictions on e-cigarettes. At the same time, the governor vetoed a bill that would have permitted cities and counties to enact their own tobacco taxes.
Research has shown that raising the age of sale of tobacco to 21, a policy called “Tobacco 21” is effective in curbing youth smoking. A March 2015 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that raising the tobacco age to 21 will have a dramatic impact on public health and save lives. The report showed that the policy, which is rapidly growing in popularity, will significantly reduce the number of adolescents and young adults who start smoking and over time will reduce adult smoking by about 12 percent. Consequently, Tobacco 21 will also reduce medical costs significantly. Prior to California’s passage of the law, 145 localities enacted similar measures, including New York City, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, both Kansas Cities, San Francisco, as well as the state of Hawaii.
Some 95 percent of adult smokers started before they were 21, demonstrating the critical importance of keeping young people from ever starting. Raising the tobacco age to 21 means stopping smokers before they start.
While the United States has made tremendous progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, it kills more than 480,000 people and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year. These deaths and costs are entirely preventable.
The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact 51 million people, or one in six Americans. For more information visit www.bigcitieshealth.org.