NEWSBRIEF: FDA adds warning labels to e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes, which have surged in popularity among Minnesota youth, will soon carry a federal warning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires warning labels on e-cigarettes and certain other tobacco products, a change initiated Aug. 10. 

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation — a coalition of more than 60 organizations working to reduce youth tobacco use — hopes the labels raise awareness of nicotine addiction among kids. The 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey found youth tobacco rose for the first time in 17 years, driven by an explosion in e-cigarette use.

“Medical professionals are sounding the alarm about nicotine addiction among our youth,” said Dr. Pete Dehnel, Medical Director for the Twin Cities Medical Society. “We know nicotine harms the developing adolescent brain and can predispose individuals for future tobacco use. The tobacco industry knows this too and is trying to addict the next generation of users. These warning labels make it clear that e-cigarettes are addictive and should be a major concern for parents.”

Recent research shows e-cigarettes and other tobacco products threaten decades of progress lowering youth tobacco rates. The 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarettes are now the most used tobacco product by youth, and the 2017 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey echoed these findings. 

The MYTS found a nearly 50 percent surge in Minnesota high-school students using e-cigarettes — from 13 percent in 2014, to 19 percent in 2017. Easy access to e-cigarettes, prolific advertising, novel designs and kid-friendly flavors have all contributed to this increase.

“E-cigarettes like JUUL and Suorin are extremely popular among students, who even use them at school,” said Meghan McFarling, a recent Mounds View High School graduate. “The flavors, design and stealth factor target young people, and e-cig advertising is all over my social media feeds. Most young people don’t understand the risks, and many of them become addicted to nicotine. More needs to be done to protect my generation, as well as generations to come, from these harmful products.”

Advocates hope these warnings will serve as a wake-up call that e-cigarette use could lead to lifetime addiction. In addition to federal action, state and local governments can also combat commercial tobacco use. Eleven Minnesota cities have passed Tobacco 21 policies, and eight have passed tobacco flavor restrictions.

“Most Minnesotans agree — we must take action to keep our young people from getting hooked on commercial tobacco products in all forms,” said Molly Moilanen, Public Affairs Director of ClearWay Minnesota and Co-Chair of Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation. “We all bear the cost of tobacco use, and we can take common sense steps to help youth avoid this deadly addiction. Raising the tobacco age to 21, keeping tobacco prices high, restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products and funding tobacco prevention and control programs are all solutions to reduce tobacco’s harm now and in the future.”

To find more information on the FDA rule requiring e-cigarette warning labels, visit www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm506676.htm

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