When the CDC released its new 2023 National Youth Survey (NYTS) data last week, vapers were thrilled to learn that youth usage had decreased to 10% from 14% the previous year (with a 61% drop over the past four years). Tobacco harm reduction advocates saw a glimmer of hope that this might persuade the CTP at the FDA to change their stance on vaping and, more importantly, flavors.
As the day progressed, we started to see posts from many ANTZ groups like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and The Truth Initiative spin this positive information into a negative, all the while still urging FDA “to protect young people by removing all products without marketing authorization from the market, as the overwhelming majority of these products are flavored and appeal to youth”…
None of us were shocked that these organizations responded in this manner; we expected this kind of spin on the good news, but the biggest hit was yet to come.
Then, as if on cue, the FDA released their statement.
The news release from the FDA titled “National Survey Shows Drop in E-Cigarette Use Among High School Students FDA Continues Push to Curb Youth Use with Additional Round of Fines Against Retailers for Illegal E-cigarette Sales”, the FDA claims that these declines are “encouraging” but in true FDA fashion goes on to claim that “although a decrease in e-cigarette use was observed among high school students, among middle school students there was an increase in current overall tobacco product use (4.5% to 6.6%) and multiple tobacco product use (1.5% to 2.5%). However, among middle school students overall, no significant change was observed during 2022-2023 for current use of any individual tobacco product type, including e-cigarettes.”
The release continues with more of the same claims about flavors: “Among youth who reported current e-cigarette use, nearly all used flavored products (89.4%), with fruit, candy, mint and menthol being the most commonly used flavors” and more promises of civil money penalties and fines for retailers.
FDA wraps up the release with this statement: “Youth use of tobacco products in any form – including e-cigarettes – is unsafe. Keeping tobacco products out of the hands of youth remains a top priority for the FDA. The FDA’s continued efforts, including the enforcement actions announced today, mark important progress toward achieving that goal.”
The hope that the FDA will finally see the light and take the adults who use these products into consideration seems like it fades a little with each new release like this one. If keeping tobacco products out of the hands of youth is their “top priority”, where do the adults fall on this list? Are they even on it at all?
This begs the question… how low does youth use have to go to get the FDA to start to pay attention to the bigger picture? Solely focusing on the non-existent youth “epidemic” with numbers like these seems negligent at best.
In the meantime, 480,000 Americans die every single year due to smoking-related illness… shouldn’t that be a top priority as well?