Internists Encouraged by Surgeon General’s Declaration That Youth E-Cigarette Use is an Epidemic
Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP
President, American College of Physicians
Washington, DC (December 20, 2018) – The American College of Physicians (ACP) is encouraged by the U.S. Surgeon General’s pledge to take action to prevent and reduce e-cigarette use among youth, and by his declaration that e-cigarette use among youth is an epidemic. ACP considers this to be a step forward in reducing underage use of combustible tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The Surgeon General’s announcement follows the release of startling new evidence that e-cigarette use among high school students grew by nearly 80 percent from 2017 to 2018, and that one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students reported that they currently use e-cigarettes.
ACP’s 2015 policy paper, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, highlighted the dangers that ENDS products, including e-cigarettes, present to individuals, particularly minors, and called for a ban on flavored tobacco products, which often attract minors. ACP is especially concerned about the increase in ENDS use among young people, as evidence suggests that adolescents who start using ENDS also use, or intend to use, combustible tobacco products later in life.
This year, ACP was encouraged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement that the agency will start the process to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in certain retail outlets and ban menthol cigarettes and cigars. ACP maintains that the FDA should extend the ban on menthol and mint flavors to ENDS products to reduce their attractiveness to young people.
ACP is committed to supporting regulations that will reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. ACP looks forward to continuing to work with regulators and health care stakeholders to implement meaningful policy that will not only improve public health, but will take concrete steps towards combating the epidemic of ENDS use among young people.
From the American Lung Association