The US FDA will pursue a new public health education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by kids, according to an agency news release.
The agency plans to expand its “The Real Cost” public education campaign to include messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products this fall while developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018.
These efforts are part of the agency’s new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation, as well as ongoing efforts to educate youth about, and protect them from, the dangers associated with using all tobacco products. It is the first time the FDA will be utilizing public health education to specifically target youth use of e-cigarettes or other ENDS.
“While we pursue a policy that focuses on addressing the role that nicotine plays in keeping smokers addicted to combustible cigarettes, and to help move those who cannot quit nicotine altogether onto less harmful products, we will also continue to work vigorously to keep all tobacco products out of the hands of kids,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. “Educating youth about the dangers of tobacco products has been a cornerstone of our efforts to reduce the harms caused by these products. Including e-cigarettes and other ENDS products in our prevention work not only makes sense, it reflects the troubling reality that they are the most commonly-used tobacco product among youth.”
More than 2 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes and other ENDS in 2016. Data also show about half of all middle and high school students who were current tobacco users also used two or more tobacco products last year.
The approach also continues to focus on the need to reduce the access and appeal of all tobacco products to youth, including e-cigarettes and other ENDS, and maintains all of the existing regulations that currently apply to these products.
Since its launch in February 2014, the FDA’s “The Real Cost” campaign has proven to be successful, with a recent evaluation concluding that the campaign prevented nearly 350,000 youth aged 11 to 18 nationwide from initiating smoking from 2014 to 2016. With nearly 2,500 youth under the age of 18 in the United States trying their first cigarette each day, youth tobacco prevention campaigns remain essential to protecting public health.