US health campaign to reduce teenage use of e-cigarettes

World Today

The e-cigarette industry in the United States is projected to gain over $3 billion in sales this year. E-cigarettes were originally marketed to adults as an aid to quit smoking, but the biggest users are teenagers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that minors are picking up the habit at an alarming rate. And, as CGTN’s Karina Huber reported, the FDA is now cracking-down on e-cigarette makers.

The FDA recently released a graphic video. It was part of a new public health campaign meant to scare teenagers away from the use of e-cigarettes, which the FDA said has reached epidemic proportions.

“I use this word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous and dangerous trend among teens,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, e-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product among American teens.

More than two million of them, or roughly 11 percent of high schoolers, said they have vaped at least once in the last 30 days.

E-cigarettes were originally meant for adults looking for a safer alternative to smoking. Users inhale fewer toxic chemicals but e-cigs often contain higher levels of nicotine.

Health professionals were worried about the impact of nicotine on young growing brains.

They were also concerned about the lack of information on other health risks.

“What the long-term effects are going to be, we don’t know, because they just haven’t been around long enough. Remember it took decades to figure out that ordinary cigarettes cause lung cancer,” said Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association.

The dominant brand among teens is Juul, which has a vaping device that looks like a flash drive. It also sells flavored pods that critics say are meant to appeal to kids.

The FDA recently seized documents related to Juul’s marketing practices. It has warned the company and other makers and sellers that if they can’t keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, some of their products may be pulled off the market.

Edelman thought the best way to tackle the problem is for regulators to treat e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes.

“If we taxed e-cigarettes the way we tax ordinary cigarettes, there certainly would be a reduction in utilization of e-cigarettes and it works best in children, teenagers,” Edelman said.