Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, a strong legislative initiative comprised of several measures to stop the rise of youth tobacco use by limiting access and the appeal of tobacco products to people under 21.
“Selling tobacco products and e-cigarettes to children is illegal, but that hasn’t stopped companies like Juul from intentionally pushing their harmful devices onto our kids and giving rise to a new public health crisis in America,” said Congresswoman Clark. “As e-cigarette use among middle and high school students continues to skyrocket across the country, it is vital that Congress steps in before a new generation of Americans becomes addicted. This legislation takes many important steps to hold e-cigarette and tobacco companies accountable and keep their products out of the hands of young people.”
“The proliferation of electronic nicotine delivery systems, offering flavors attractive to youth, has fueled a new epidemic of tobacco use,” said Massachusetts Medical Society Vice President and pediatrician Carole Allen. “It is a tragedy that the tobacco industry successfully continues to target and addict children and minority communities with flavored products, including in particular menthol and mint, resulting in disproportional use by those most in need of protection. In outlawing all flavors in all forms of tobacco and curtailing marketing and internet sales of almost all of these products, H.R. 2339 closes gaps in federal policy and, as its title indicates, promises to protect a generation from nicotine addiction.”
The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act will:
- Require cigarette packages to include graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking
- Tax e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products at the same rate as cigarettes
- Prevent non-face-to-face sales of certain tobacco products
- Raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 and make it illegal for any retailer to sell tobacco products to those under 21
- Block the manufacture and sale of all flavored tobacco products
- Make critical public health investments to smoking prevention and cessation efforts across the country
E-cigarette use among young people rose by 78 percent in 2018 alone, representing an increase of approximately 1.5 million children in one year. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 1 in 5 high school students now use e-cigarettes. Over 80 percent of young people who have used tobacco started with a flavored product, and the overwhelming majority of e-cigarette users under the age of 21 have used flavored e-cigarettes in the past month.
E-cigarette manufacturers like Juul have stated that many of their products deliver as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes, but research has shown that many young e-cigarettes don’t know that e-cigarette products can contain nicotine. A 2016 Surgeon General report found that youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe, causes addiction, and can harm adolescent brain development. In addition, the Center for Disease Control has reported as of February 18, 2020, a total of 2,807 hospitalizations from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico that were due to lung injuries associated with e-cigarette use.
Original story here.