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What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

The Surgeon General resolves to reduce the use of electronic cigarettes among youth.

What has been a banner year for electronic cigarette understanding and regulation, ends with the Surgeon General’s first report on the use and health effects of electronic cigarettes used by youth and young adults. 2016 saw the introduction of federal regulation of electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vape pens) when the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) said that electronic cigarettes were tobacco products. This means that they will be regulated by the FDA.

Now, that “Deeming Rule” has been followed up with the Surgeon General releasing the first report on electronic cigarette use and health effect among youth. With this new report, the Surgeon General says that electronic cigarette use by youth is a major health concern and that using any nicotine containing product, including electronic cigarettes, is not safe for youth and young adults. Also, electronic cigarettes can contain flavorings and other additives that can be harmful to health. New tools from this report will help us show the importance of youth saying “no” the use of any tobacco product. We will work with youth and their communities to protect youth and young adults from targeted advertising and industry strategies to attract youth.

The Surgeon General states that regulation of these products and education on the dangers of electronic cigarettes is very important to the health of youth. Using nicotine can be harmful to the developing brain and can lead to future addiction of not just nicotine, but other substances, too. The Surgeon General mentions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and FDA findings that more than 9 out of every 10 regular tobacco users first used products that contained nicotine before the age of 18. The report also says users first used these products because they believe that electronic cigarettes are safer than other traditional products, also because of the attractiveness of flavors and curiosity.

The Surgeon General suggests regulating electronic cigarettes at the local, state and federal level to try to lower the rates of young people using them and keeping youth from trying other nicotine containing products.  Those regulations include adding electronic cigarette to smoke-free laws, licensing and regulating electronic cigarette flavorings, and marketing that targets youth. Tobacco Free 303 is working with our community partners on changes that will protect youth from nicotine addiction and fight against an industry that tries to target kids. It is our New Year’s Resolution, too. Find out more on our community action pages.