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FDA Announces New Efforts To Treat Teen E-Cigarette and Nicotine Addiction

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Federal health officials hope to curb teen e-cigarette use by focusing on addiction treatment, as well as prevention efforts to discourage vaping.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release on Monday, which indicates the agency is focusing on ways to help teens who are already addicted to e-cigarettes quit using the products, in addition to current prevention efforts designed to stop teens from trying e-cigarettes to begin with.

The agency announced plans to host a “Youth Tobacco Cessation: Science and Treatment Strategies” workshop on May 15, which will involve discussion of the scientific understanding about teen e-cigarette use and treatment options that are available for those addicted to vaping.

“The need is clear,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, said in the press release. “We’ve heard too many painful stories from parents of teenagers, pediatricians, and young people themselves; and, they reinforce what we all already know – for many young e-cigarette users, addiction has already taken hold. These young people are hooked on vaping, and their worried parents, physicians, and the public health community are searching for tools to help them quit.”

The press release indicates that there are unique challenges to treating teen addiction. While there is a lot of research on adult smoking cessation, not much has been done to understand teen addiction to nicotine.

E-cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco for teens in the U.S., and data suggests that 1.5 million more teens were vaping in 2018 than in 2017.

In 2018, nearly 5 million teens admitted currently using e-cigarettes. Studies indicate teens who vape are more likely to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes later.

The FDA recognizes that a part of the Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan should include tobacco cessation approaches tailored toward teens, who are particularly susceptible to addictive behaviors and are enticed by flavored vaping products.

Tobacco use is especially dangerous for teens as it can harm the developing brain and exposes youth to toxic chemicals and harmful carcinogens. So it is particularly important to help those who may already be hooked on vaping find ways to quit safely, the FDA warns.

“We are hopeful this scientific workshop will help provide valuable information and input that the FDA can use to further address e-cigarette use among youth and help those who may already be addicted to these products through potential new therapies,” Gottlieb said. “We cannot risk a whole generation of kids getting addicted to nicotine.”

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