PHOENIX — Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes and 32 other attorneys general from around the country signed a letter outlining recommendations to cut down on youth vaping numbers. Federal data shows millions of teens regularly use electronic cigarettes, especially flavored products.
In the Aug. 29 letter, the officials suggested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration take several actions against the e-cigarette industry to make vaping less appealing to young people.
Even though the legal age to purchase is 21 in the U.S., use of tobacco products by youth remains a consistent problem.
“The devastating effects of nicotine addiction are well-documented and it is critical the FDA enact changes to protect children and teens from e-cigarettes,” Mayes said in a statement on Aug. 30. “We’re seeing an alarming resurgence in nicotine use for young adults. From restrictions on marketing that targets youth, to prohibiting flavors designed to entice teens to use e-cigarettes in the first place – more guardrails are needed to prevent tobacco use and addiction among young people in our country.”
The recommended actions include banning all “non-tobacco flavors” of e-cigarettes, imposing limits on nicotine concentration, cracking down on disposable e-cigarettes and also enacting stricter regulations on how e-cigarettes are marketed toward youth.
E-cigarettes are also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). “Youth ENDS use remains troublingly high, fueled largely by the widespread use of flavored disposable ENDS,” the letter states. “Last year, 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students reported current ENDS use. Over 2.2 million of these students used fruit, candy, or dessert flavored ENDS; nearly 1.4 million used disposable products.”
The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey released in November reported that over 3 million middle school and high school students use tobacco products, with 2.5 million of those using e-cigarettes – over one in four on a daily basis.
According to the survey, which is conducted annually by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the e-cigarettes used are “disposables.” Disposable e-cigarettes are only intended to be used one time before throwing them out, according to the national Tobacco Education Resource Library.
Meredith Berkman, co-founder of Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, praised the letter by the state-level officials.
“We were surprised and we were delighted to see that there was a bipartisan multi-AG letter going to FDA. I think that that’s really important,” Berkman said.
“Our advocacy is about ending sales of all flavored tobacco products to protect kids. … Adults may want flavors, but we have incontrovertible evidence that millions of kids have become initiated into the use of these products, and many of them addicted to nicotine from these products because of the flavors,” she added.
The letter was prompted by the FDA’s request for comment on its proposed five-year strategic plan for the Center for Tobacco Products. The comment period ended in August.