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With Flavors Still on the Market, E-Cigarette Executives Testify Before Congress

February 5, 2020

Washington, D.C. – February 5, 2020 – Today the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on e-cigarette use in the United States. Executives from five of the largest e-cigarette manufacturers are scheduled to testify. The hearing comes amid an ongoing youth tobacco epidemic and one day before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set to begin enforcement of the agency’s weak guidance released in early January that put industry profits above the health of children. 

Data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey show youth use of e-cigarettes in high schools skyrocketed, with a 135% increase over the past two years. Survey results also show that 27.5% of high school students used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Nearly 64% used mint or menthol flavored e-cigarettes, only 2% less than fruit flavored products and significantly more than candy flavors.

The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“By examining the products, behaviors, and marketing practices of the industry responsible for the current youth e-cigarette epidemic, Congress continues to dedicate critical attention to this national health crisis. Despite what industry executives may say today, the profit-driven e-cigarette manufacturers, who have taken a page out of the tobacco industry playbook, cannot be trusted to do what is best for the health of our children. In the continued absence of comprehensive oversight and regulation of e-cigarette manufacturers and the broader tobacco industry by the FDA, it’s time for Congress to act by passing legislation which comprehensively removes flavored tobacco products from the market. 

“The tobacco industry has enjoyed its unconstrained ability to market flavored tobacco products that are popular with youth for far too long. The Administration’s decision to abandon its originally announced plan to clear the marketplace of all flavored e-cigarettes and instead move forward with its hollowed-out guidance that is set to take effect tomorrow will unfortunately only allow this trend to continue.

“According to the most recent data available, among teens who have ever tried an e-cigarette, 96.1% used a flavored product for their first time, and among current teen e-cigarette users 97.0% regularly use a flavored product. Weak guidance that put industry profits over public health by allowing the continued sale of menthol flavored cartridge e-cigarettes and all other flavors to be sold in all other types of e-cigarettes, such as tank systems and disposable e-cigarettes, means all flavors will still be available in products that are already known to be used by youth.

“We applaud Chairman Pallone and Subcommittee Chairwoman DeGette for bringing e-cigarette industry executives before lawmakers today and holding them accountable for their shameless marketing practices, targeting of youth and skirting of federal regulations. Congress has the opportunity to lead on protecting the health of our children from the dangers of the tobacco industry and lawmakers cannot stop short of doing just that.”

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Alissa Crispino
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Washington