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Congressional Authors Of E-Cigarette Marketing Report Call New CDC Data “the Sound Of An Alarm”

CDC study shows that with e-cigarette use on the rise, adolescents who smoke e-cigarettes are twice as likely to intend to smoke traditional cigarettes

WASHINGTON, D.C.—With e-cigarette use among middle and high schoolers still on the rise, nine Members of Congress responded to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that adolescents who had used e-cigarettes were more likely to express intentions to smoke conventional cigarettes than those who had not. Previous scientific studies have shown that intent to smoke cigarettes is a valid predictor of future tobacco use. Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a report calling for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors, an end to flavored e-cigarettes, and immediate regulation of e-cigarette advertising aimed at youth.

Last year, Members released an investigative report that showed a dramatic recent increase in the marketing of e-cigarettes with extensive resources being dedicated to social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and television and radio advertisements that reach substantial youth audiences. More information is available here.

“If last year’s Centers for Disease Control report on the growing number of kids using e-cigarettes was a call to action, then this new CDC data on the marketing of these dangerous devices is the sound of an alarm,” the Members said. “This study is further evidence that the absence of federal regulation has resulted in an explosion of marketing for e-cigarettes and the number of kids and young adults who want to try smoking them. FDA has an existing mechanism to protect children now, and the scientific evidence has never been clearer: strong regulatory action on the marketing of e-cigarettes to children cannot wait.”

The joint statement was released by: U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Jack Reed (D-RI), and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

The report released by the CDC on Monday found that number of middle school and high school students in the United States who have tried e-cigarettes – but not traditional cigarettes – increased three-fold between 2011 and 2013, reaching more than 260,000 youth. Most troublingly, the report found that those youth who have used e-cigarettes are almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes.

The new CDC report also produced further evidence that that the more young people report exposure to pro-tobacco advertising, the more likely they are to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes. Thirteen percent of students who said they had no exposures to tobacco ads reported intentions to smoke, compared to 25.6 percent who reported the highest levels of exposure to tobacco advertising. This is especially concerning given a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, which found that the number of children aged 12 to 17 years exposed to e-cigarette marketing increased by 256% between 2011 and 2013.

This report is a follow-up to a CDC report released last year, which showed a dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes among children and youth. That report found that use of e-cigarettes had more than doubled in use among high school students since the 2011-2012 school year. In total, the report found that 1.8 million middle and high school students nationwide have tried e-cigarettes, and more than 75% of them were also smoking traditional cigarettes.

In response to the information presented in that report, twelve Members of Congress wrote to nine e-cigarette makers asking for additional information regarding the sale, distribution, labeling, and marketing of their products to children and teens.

Using responses the lawmakers received to this letter from eight e-cigarette manufacturers, as well as other publicly available information, the Members released an investigation report entitled “Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth” that showed a dramatic recent increase in the marketing of e-cigarettes with extensive resources being dedicated to social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and television and radio advertisements that reach substantial youth audiences.

The report found that in just two years, from 2012 to 2013, six of the surveyed companies sponsored or provided free samples at 348 events, many of which were music festivals and motorsport events geared toward young people—including Grand Prix auto racing events.

In April, the FDA proposed a rule that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority to regulate e-cigarettes and other liquid nicotine delivery devices. The proposed rule failed to prohibit marketing to minors, the use of flavors, or online sales of e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices to minors.

Earlier this month, thirteen Members of Congress responded to this rule and called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate action to protect young people from predatory e-cigarette marketing and distribution tactics that are straight out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. In the letter, the Members asked the FDA to exercise its existing authority and apply the restrictions imposed on combustible tobacco products to limit youth access to e-cigarettes. More information is available here.