During Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November, it may be the best time to talk to kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes, the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood, and the federal agency released stunning new details today. showing that from 2017 to 2018, there was a 78 percent increase in current e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48 percent increase among middle school students.
The total number of middle and high school students currently using e-cigarettes rose to 3.6 million — that’s 1.5 million more students using these products than the previous year.
“Almost all adult smokers started smoking when they were kids,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “Nearly 90 percent started smoking before the age of 18, and 95 percent by age 21. Only about one percent of cigarette smokers begin at age 26 or older.”
“As a physician who cared for hospitalized cancer patients, I saw first-hand the devastation that smoking-related diseases had wrought on the lives of patients and their families, and dedicated myself to helping ease this suffering,” said Gottlieb. “As a cancer survivor myself, I understand too well the uncertainty, grief and struggle that accompanies a cancer diagnosis.”
“As a father of three young children, I hear daily from parents and teachers worried about the epidemic use of electronic cigarettes and nicotine addiction among kids,” said Gottlieb. “When I pledged last year to reduce addiction to nicotine, I was driven by the fact that, in the U.S., tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease.”
Gottlieb revealed plans to combat underage use of e-cigs and nicotine, by removing all flavored electronic nicotine delivery system products — with the exception of tobacco, mint, menthol or non-flavored products — from any store where children under the age of 18 can see them.
“The statistics on youth e-cigarette usage released today by FDA and CDC are shocking,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ. “While I am appalled that this epidemic has been permitted to flourish, I am also encouraged by FDA’s actions today to respond to this crisis. I commend Commissioner Gottlieb and FDA on the agency’s proposal to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarette products in retail stores and increase age-verification requirements for flavored products that kids and teens are disproportionately more likely to use.”
During 2011–2017, prevalence of current use of any tobacco product decreased from 24.2% to 19.6% among high school students and from 7.5% to 5.6% among middle school students. Electronic cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school (11.7%) and middle school students (3.3%) in 2017.
Sustained implementation of population-based strategies, in coordination with Food and Drug Administration regulation of tobacco products, are critical to reducing tobacco product use and initiation among U.S. youths.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, and nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. Authorities believe that if current smoking rates continue, 5.6 million Americans under 18 years of age who are alive today are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related disease.
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