While teen smoking has fallen by 80% over the past 20 years, a new generation is now at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine — and possibly at risk for other serious health problems — through e-cigarettes. More than 5 million U.S. high school students are now using e-cigarettes, an increase of 135% from 2017. Vaping has exploded into a national crisis, and tobacco companies are helping to fuel it by targeting kids with flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy; 83% of e-cigarettes users use the flavored varieties. E-cigarette companies have promoted unsubstantiated health claims about their products as healthier than traditional cigarettes, when, in fact, e-cigarettes are uniquely dangerous for kids due to nicotine’s impact on their developing brains.
Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes
Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes is a three-year, $160 million program led by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that aims to combat this epidemic and push leaders to act. The initiative is working to pass laws to ban all flavored e-cigarettes, prevent manufacturers from marketing to children, crack down on online sales, and help concerned parents make their voices heard. It is also funding ad campaigns to raise awareness and counter tobacco companies’ dishonest marketing and attempts to influence public policy.
The September 2019 launch of the initiative came as health authorities in dozens of states were investigating hundreds of cases of respiratory illnesses associated with vaping, with many cases involving teens.
The initiative supports efforts to:
- Remove flavored e-cigarettes from the marketplace. Studies have found that some flavoring chemicals themselves may have health risks.
- Ensure all e-cigarette products are subject to scientific review, preferably before they reach the market.
- End marketing directly to kids. Research has shown that the marketing practices of Juul, for example, have been “patently youth-oriented.”
- Stop online e-cigarette sales until sales to kids can be prevented.
To inform this work and evaluate the effectiveness of policy, the CDC Foundation is collecting and analyzing information about e-cigarette sales, teen e-cigarette use, and teens’ attitudes about the epidemic.
Protecting Kids in the Fight Against E-Cigarettes
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly consequences in the United States and around the world. The organization’s vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Through strategic communications and advocacy campaigns, Tobacco-Free Kids advocates for public policies that are most effective at reducing tobacco use and save the most lives.
Top photo: The Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes, aims to combat the e-cigarettes epidemic and push leaders to act. Photo credit: Shutterstock