The AHA Supports D.C. Council’s Effort to Remove Flavored E-Cigarettes as First Step to Protect Youth

The American Heart Association Supports D.C. Council’s Effort to Remove Flavored E-Cigarettes as First Step to Protect Youth

Statement from Soula Antoniou, Executive Director of the Greater Washington Region American Heart Association

Washington, D.C., September 17, 2019- “D.C. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Vincent Gray, and a majority of the Council have taken necessary and appropriate first steps to address the electronic cigarette epidemic by proposing legislation to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in the District.  While the American Heart Association supports the legislation introduced today in the D.C. Council, we believe this is only a first step to fully address the epidemic of youth tobacco use – including e-cigarettes and nicotine addiction. It is critical that the Council address the entire problem.  Just as flavored e-cigarette products are appealing to youth, so are many other flavored tobacco products.

“The American Heart Association strongly supports removing all characterizing flavors from the marketplace for all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes, cigars, hookah, smokeless and others. Today’s important step could be made even more effective if it were expanded to include all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. We strongly encourage the D.C. Council to include all tobacco products and all flavors in the legislation to make a larger impact on our youth’s health.

The 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey preliminary data show that e-cigarette use among high school students has increased 135% over the past two years, and flavors such as menthol, mint, and fruit are driving the increase. More than 1 in 4 (27.5%) high school students used e-cigarettes and 63.9% used mint, fruit, or menthol flavors. Youth who use e-cigarettes are four times likely to transition to combustible cigarettes. This is why we support the Council’s effort to remove flavors from the marketplace. With the recent emergency actions being taken to address respiratory illnesses and deaths linked to these products, the American Heart Association recommends that any policy action taken on flavors be as comprehensive as possible in including all characterizing flavors and all tobacco products.”