The American Lung Association thinks that efforts to prohibit children and teenagers from having access to e-cigarettes have not been enough.
In its annual State of Tobacco Control report published on Wednesday, Jan. 30, the association called out the U.S. Food and Drug Authority as well as local governments for failing to protect young people from e-cigarettes. The report revealed that from 2017 to 2018, the number of young people using e-cigarettes has risen 78 percent, achieving epidemic levels.
More Aggressive Actions Needed
"We know how to save lives— with the proven tobacco control policies called for in 'State of Tobacco Control'," stated Harold P. Wimmer, the CEO and president of the American Lung Association, in a press release. "This year's report finds a disturbing failure of the federal government and states to take action to prevent and reduce tobacco use in 2018, placing the health and lives of Americans at risk, including our youth."
Some of the harshest criticisms are directed toward the FDA, which received the "F" grade for its regulation of tobacco products across the country. The report cited the federal agency's intention to address the rising trend of e-cigarette use among children by introducing new measures. One such measure is to ban all flavored cigars, including menthol, from the market.
However, the association does not think that the measures that have been proposed so far are enough to combat the problem.
"All states and the federal government can do more to reduce tobacco use; the FDA in particular has been asleep at the switch for far too long," added Wimmer. "Their failure to act for years set the stage for e-cigarette use among youth to finally explode into an epidemic."
The association also called out the federal agency's previous inaction that they blame for the tobacco industry's "aggressive" efforts to delay and oppose policies that would save lives. Wimmer said that these efforts, including lobbying at Capitol Hill, weaken the authority of the FDA over the tobacco industry.
No state has earned an "A" for efforts to restrict access to e-cigarettes this year.
E-Cigarettes Harmful For Kids, Teens
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, has become the most commonly used form of tobacco among the young in the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that e-cigarettes are unsafe for kids and teens. Most contain nicotine that is highly addictive and can disrupt the development of the brain. Moreover, studies have shown that young people who used e-cigarettes are also more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.