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FDA and States Are Failing To Address Teen Vaping Concerns, American Lung Association Warns

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The federal government and most states are doing a poor job of implementing e-cigarette regulations and policies that are needed to protect the nation’s youth from the dangers of vaping, according to a new report by the American Lung Association. 

This week, the group issued it’s 17th annual State of Tobacco Control report for 2019, which evaluates state and federal effective tobacco control laws and policies. The new report gave failing marks to the federal government, indicating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not doing enough to prevent teens from using and buying e-cigarettes and should have enacted stricter policies long ago.

Traditional cigarette smoking rates are at an all-time low, with only 7.6 percent of high school students smoking. Smoking rates among adults dropped from 15.5 percent in 2016 to 14 percent by 2017.

Despite those figures, the same strides have not been made with vaping rates, with extreme increases seen in youth e-cigarette use nationwide, as vaping has quickly become the most popular form of tobacco use among teens. Rates jumped 78 percent in only one year, from 2017 to 2018.

In 2011, when the FDA first said it would regulate e-cigarettes, only 1.5 percent of teens vaped, but now more than one-third of teens use e-cigarettes.

The association gave the FDA an “F” grade for lack of action, saying the agency is failing to apply polices and regulations appropriately to protect youths. Failure to implement stricter regulations may lead to a generation of future cigarette smokers since vaping quadruples a teens chance of smoking cigarettes.

The new report also points to the substantial influence the tobacco industry has on pressuring the government not to enact regulations, which leads to increasing use and increasing ways to addict more teens.

The American Lung Association also issued grades for each state, focusing on tobacco program funding, smoke-free air, tobacco taxes, access to cessation aid, and “Tobacco 21” laws.

No state in the country received straight As; however some states performed fairly well with mostly As. The best performers were Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and District of Columbia.

The four poorest performing states, which received Fs across the board, were Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia.

Furthermore, no state is funding its tobacco prevention efforts at levels recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the report.

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics also called on the federal government to implement more stringent vaping laws across the country, and not wait another year to act. An announcement made by the FDA a week ago promised a full ban if teen vaping rates and advertising to teens did not decrease.

The new report calls out the FDA for promises like this, indicating the agency has made many announcements regarding the intent to regulate and launched media campaigns, but has made no efforts toward further regulation, taxation or stricter policies.

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