Nationwide Campaign Launched To Prevent Teen E-Cigarette Use, Raise Awareness About Dangerous “Epidemic”

As part of a continuing effort to to prevent teen e-cigarette use, and avoid potential health risks linked to the increasingly popular vaping devices, federal regulators have launched a new national campaign designed to raise awareness about dangerous trend among youths, which has reached “epidemic proportions.” 

The FDA announced the launch of “The Real Cost” youth e-cigarette campaign on September 18, which is part of the agency’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan; a $60 million effort to combat the increasing use of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices like the Juul among the nation’s children.

The campaign will involve advertisements on social media and other digital platforms used by teens, including YouTube, Spotify, and others. It also includes advertising messages displayed in high school bathrooms, where many teens use e-cigarettes or are faced with peer pressure to use the devices.

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Recently, the FDA indicated youth e-cigarette use has reached epidemic levels as vaping has become the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s youth. The agency says advertising and products targeted directly at children and teens is partially to blame.

“E-cigarettes have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among youth that we believe has reached epidemic proportions,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottleib, said in a statement. “This troubling reality is prompting us to take even more forceful actions to stem this dangerous trend, including revisiting our compliance policy that extended the compliance dates for manufacturers of certain e-cigarettes, including flavored e-cigarettes, to submit applications for premarket authorization. Based on our evidence, we believe the presence of flavors is one component making these products especially attractive to kids.”

The agency warned that despite the fact teens are increasingly using e-cigarettes, there is no data showing traditional cigarette use is declining among that group.

Additionally, a new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics indicates roughly one-third of middle and high school students report using marijuana in e-cigarette devices. Roughly 1 in 11 students, or 20,000 teens nationwide, are using vapes to smoke marijuana, not just nicotine.

The new FDA campaign, funded by user fees collected from the tobacco industry, focuses on educating teens who are using vapes or may be at risk of trying e-cigarettes.

The program will educate teens about the number of health consequences e-cigarettes pose, including exposing youth to more cancer causing chemicals and increased respiratory symptoms.

Nicotine can rewire the brain to crave more, especially for teen brains which are still developing, and the FDA notes that research indicates e-cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional cigarettes. However, 80% of youth do not see vaping as a harmful habit.

The FDA’s efforts go beyond a social media and advertising campaign. It is also cracking down on e-cigarette manufactures, and launching a sting focused on e-cigarette retailers selling to minors.

The agency sent letters to five major e-cigarette manufacturers last week, including JUUL, Vuse, MarkTen, blu e-cigs, and Logic, indicating that all of them had products that were sold to children during the enforcement blitz. The FDA requested that the companies send plans to the agency within 60 days describing how they intended to prevent widespread youth access to their products.

If the companies fail to do so, the FDA is considering banning some or all of their flavored vaping products from the market.


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