In the latest of a series of actions to address the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently launched “The Real Cost” Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign, a new, comprehensive effort aimed at educating kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes. The campaign targets nearly 10.7 million youth, aged 12-17, who have used e-cigarettes or are open to trying them, and features hard-hitting advertising on digital and social media sites popular among teens, as well as placing posters with e-cigarette prevention messages in high schools across the nation.
“HHS is committed to comprehensive efforts to protect America’s youth from the dangers of using any tobacco or nicotine-containing products. We congratulate the FDA on the launch of this new, hard-hitting campaign about the risk of addiction and other health consequences that can result from youth using e-cigarettes. This public education campaign will reach teens directly and complement the aggressive steps the FDA is taking to crack down on the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to minors,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“E-cigarettes have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among youth that we believe has reached epidemic proportions. This troubling reality is prompting us to take even more forceful actions to stem this dangerous trend, including revisiting our compliance policy that extended the compliance dates for manufacturers of certain e-cigarettes, including flavored e-cigarettes, to submit applications for premarket authorization. Based on our evidence, we believe the presence of flavors is one component making these products especially attractive to kids. The mandate to reverse this trend in youth addiction to nicotine is one of my highest priorities. I’m employing every tool at my disposal in these efforts. As a parent, a survivor of cancer, and someone entrusted with responsibilities to protect our nation’s kids from certain dangers – I won’t allow this rising youth use to continue on my watch. The new campaign we’re announcing today seeks to snap teens out of their ‘cost-free’ mentality regarding e-cigarette use with powerful and creative messages that reach kids where they spend a lot of their time: online and in school. In particular, these compelling prevention messages will be displayed in high school bathrooms, a place we know many teens are using e-cigarettes or faced with the peer pressure to do so,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Even as we consider the potential benefits of innovative tobacco products and the role that some such products may play in reducing harm to current adult smokers, the FDA won’t tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a tradeoff for enabling adults to have unfettered access to these same products. No youth should be using any nicotine-containing product, and the trends underway are more than a small amount of casual experimentation among kids. They are evidence of a significant swath of a generation of kids becoming regular users of nicotine. Kids who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try combustible cigarettes. And that jeopardizes the extraordinary public health gains we’ve made in reducing smoking rates in this nation. Making sure e-cigs aren’t being marketed to, sold to, or used by kids is a core priority and the guiding principle behind our efforts. We want to assure parents, educators, health professionals and the public that we’re using all of our tools and authorities to quickly tackle this public health threat. We’re committed to taking more aggressive steps to address this challenge and will continue to hold retailers and manufacturers of e-cigarettes accountable for their role in perpetuating youth access and use of these products, including new actions in the coming weeks and months.”
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