Press Release

Enforcement of New Flavor Restrictions a Step Forward, but Falls Short of Protecting All Youth and Families from the Harms of Nicotine

January 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 2, 2020                

Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Executive Director, issued the following statement:

WASHINGTON, D.C – Although today’s announcement to further restrict flavors and address the overall legality of most e-cigarettes currently on the market is an important step forward, the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) expressed its disappointment that the flavor restrictions proposed by the Trump Administration do not go further. Contrary to earlier suggestions that the market would be cleared of all flavored vaping products, the Administration announced that it will continue to allow menthol flavored e-cigarettes, as well as all flavors in open-tank vaping systems, which allow users to re-fill devices with e-liquids. 

“We know that youth vape, and we know that that despite our best efforts, they all too often secure these products from so-called adult-only stores,” said Chrissie Juliano, MPP, Executive Director of the Big Cities Health Coalition. “In fact, nearly three-quarters of youth report purchasing e-cigarette and related products from brick-and-mortar vape shops – where most flavors will still be allowable. All flavors make vaping more attractive, and leaving any such products on the market is a threat to the public’s health, especially the most vulnerable among us – our young people.”

Sara Cody, MD, County Health Officer and Director of the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, and Chair of the Big Cities Health Coalition, said, “In the absence of common sense restrictions at the federal level, big city health officials have acted to limit all flavors, where they are able. Youth across the country deserve to be protected no matter where they live, and today’s announcement by the Trump Administration falls short of doing that.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Surgeon General have joined with public health advocates to label the surge in vaping among youth an “epidemic.” In fact, data from the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey show a more than 75 percent increase among high schoolers and nearly a 50 percent increase among middle schoolers. Flavors are a primary reason why youth start and continue to use e-cigarettes as they alter the taste and reduce the harshness of tobacco products, making them more appealing to young people and easier for them to use. Results from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that menthol is an appealing flavor to kids, as evidenced by the rapid increase in use of menthol and mint flavored e-cigarettes in 2019, following Juul’s removal of other flavors from the market.

A notable component to today’s announcement is the FDA’s assertion that it has been exercising enforcement discretion of electronic nicotine delivery devices, and within approximately 30 days, most if not all of these products will be deemed illegal until proper product information is received from industry and reviewed by the FDA. BCHC will continue to monitor subsequent action by the federal government regarding e-cigarette and flavor enforcement, in an effort to protect the public’s health in communities across the country.

CONTACT: Max Mays mays@bigcitieshealth.org or 913-233-6830 

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About the Big Cities Health Coalition

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 nearly 62 million people, or one in five Americans. For more information, visit http://www.bigcitieshealth.org.