The Academy is applauding the Trump administration for announcing plans to pull flavored e-cigarettes from the market to help stop the youth vaping epidemic.
Federal officials said non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes including mint and menthol would not be allowed to be sold without Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review, a move AAP President Kyle E. Yasuda, M.D., FAAP, called bold and decisive.
“Pediatricians have been raising the alarm with increased urgency about the toll of e-cigarettes on their teenage patients, which ranges from wheezing and coughing to compromised lung function, asthma exacerbation and most recently, to seizures, respiratory distress and death,” Dr. Yasuda said in a statement. “This is a public health emergency and we are pleased to see the federal government leading efforts to help address it.”
In recent weeks, state and federal health officials have been investigating reports of more than 450 severe pulmonary illnesses and six deaths linked to vaping. Of those, 380 cases have been deemed confirmed or probably. E-cigarettes also are addictive and harmful to developing brains. Still, preliminary new data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey show more than a quarter of high school students had recently vaped. Many are drawn to the products with flavors like bubble gum, cotton candy, chocolate and fruit.
“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II, J.D., said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
Officials said the FDA would finalize a plan in the coming weeks.
The AAP has been unwavering in its efforts to keep e-cigarettes out of children’s hands, urging lawmakers to ban flavored products and restrict all sales to anyone under 21 years. It also has been pushing for faster premarket review by the FDA.
In July, Jonathan P. Winickoff, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, represented the Academy at a hearing held by a U.S. House of Representatives oversight subcommittee and called for JUUL pods to be removed from the market. The pods have the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes. The Academy also helped launch a series of advertisements to call attention to the harmful effects of JUUL.
“The lack of meaningful federal regulation of e-cigarettes has carried real consequences for children’s health and safety,” Dr. Yasuda said. “E-cigarettes designed to look like flash drives, pens and watches have made their way into the hands of young people. Flavors that appeal to children, like cotton candy and gummy bear, have been marketed in ways specifically designed to attract and addict teens. Today’s announcement is a long overdue and needed step to prevent further endangerment and addiction of an entire generation of young people. FDA must now follow through on its promise without delay.”