To curb alarming rise in teen vaping, DeGette to propose nationwide ban on sale of e-cig flavors

Mar 4, 2019
Press Release
Legislation would ban sale of kid-friendly nicotine flavors - such as ‘cotton candy’ and ‘tutti fruitti’ - in U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) announced today that she plans to introduce legislation this week that would ban the sale or manufacture of often kid-friendly flavors used in e-cigarettes.

DeGette’s home state of Colorado has the nation’s highest rate of teenagers reportedly using e-cigarettes. And, according to a report by the U.S. Surgeon General, much of the popularity associated with teenage use of e-cigarettes can be attributed to the appealing candy and fruit flavorings that accompany such devices.

“Tobacco use remains one of the greatest threats to our children’s health and we have to do more to protect them from the dangers of e-cigarettes,” DeGette said. “Most experts agree that the kid-friendly flavors that e-cigarette manufactures are selling with these products are one of the leading causes of this spike in use among our high school and middle school students. To me, there is no legitimate reason to sell any product with names such as cotton candy or tutti fruitti, unless you are trying to market it to children. If we’re going to address the root cause of this problem, we have to start by banning the sale of these enticing kid-friendly nicotine flavors.”

DeGette’s legislation – known as the SAFE Kids Act – would give e-cigarette manufactures one year to prove to the federal Food and Drug Administration that the use of flavorings in e-cigarettes – flavors such as gummy bear, cotton candy, tutti fruitti, and cookies ‘n cream – are being used solely to help adults stop smoking cigarettes, and that they don’t lead to increased use among teens or cause any additional harm to users.

Under the terms of the bill, if e-cigarette manufacturers cannot prove to the FDA that all three of those claims are true within one year of the bill being signed into law, they would longer be allowed to sell or manufacturer flavored nicotine products in the United States.

Proponents of the legislation say it’s necessary to protecting children from the dangers of tobacco use, which remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and responsible for killing more than 480,000 people annually – more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.

Recent surveys found that the most popular form of tobacco use among teens today is e-cigarettes – with more than three million kids using the electronic devices last year alone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, while cigarette use among high school students in the U.S. has reached an all-time low – dropping from 28 percent in 2000 to just eight percent in 2016 – the use of e-cigarettes among high school students during that same time, from 2011 to 2015, has increased more than ten-fold – from 1.5 percent to 16 percent.

And despite claims by e-cigarette manufacturers that their flavorings are made primarily to help adults quit traditional cigarettes, only three percent of adults use e-cigarettes, whereas 12 percent of kids are now using the products.

In fact, a recent study by Dartmouth College found that for every one adult who quits smoking as a result of using e-cigarettes, 81 more children have developed a regular smoking habit as a result of using the product.

According to the CDC, one in four high school students in Colorado reportedly admitted to smoking e-cigarettes within the last month, a figure that puts the state’s percentage of vaping teens at the highest in the nation – and twice the national average.

DeGette plans to introduce the legislation she unveiled today in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.

A copy of DeGette’s legislation is available here.