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Durbin, Blumenthal, Harkin, Carper, Markey Warn Against Dangers Of E-Cigs After CDC Releases Data Showing An Increase In Use Among Youth

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) warned against the dangers of electronic cigarettes after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new data showing that use of these products has more than doubled among middle and high school students since the 2011-2012 school year.

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigs” are marketed as substitutes for tobacco smoking. However, in addition to releasing candy and fruit flavored vapors that appeal to youth, many release nicotine, which, according to the CDC, could increase the likelihood that youth start using conventional cigarettes.  

Senator Durbin said, “This scientific report provides conclusive evidence that the use of e-cigarettes among our nation’s kids is both on the rise and closely linked to the deadly use of cigarettes. This information is a call to action – tobacco companies continue to find new ways to target America’s young people and we need to actively prevent it. I commend the Centers for Disease Control for shedding light on this important issue, and look forward to working with my colleagues to continue work to curb tobacco use amongst our kids. With the right commitment we can spare future generations of young people from this deadly epidemic.”

Senator Blumenthal said, “Electronic cigarettes as marketed today – with flavors like bubblegum and strawberry – are targeted at young people with the very clear intent of creating a new generation of smokers. Without question, tobacco companies are using the same despicable tactics with e-cigarettes that they used in previous decades with traditional cigarettes to lure youth down a path of nicotine addiction and eventual death. Efforts to reduce tobacco use among youth must be redoubled, and include more aggressive action by the FDA. I will continue fighting to ensure that young people in Connecticut and across the country stay tobacco-free.” 

“This new data from CDC paints a disturbing picture about the use of e-cigarettes among young people. E-cigarette use has doubled among middle school and high school students in just one year, and some young people may be using these products as an entry point to use of conventional tobacco products,” said Senator Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “The manufacturers of e-cigarettes aggressively market them, often with unproven claims that they are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes or can help smokers quit – underscoring the urgent need for greater research into these products.  I am pleased the FDA has announced they will expand their jurisdiction to include e-cigarettes, and look forward to the release of proposed regulations that will establish a clear framework for the sale of e-cigarettes.”

“This report is a troubling reminder that we have more work to do to combat the harmful effects of smoking, especially among our kids,” Senator Carper said. “New mechanisms for nicotine delivery like e-cigarettes are on the rise, with more and more Americans using them as substitutes for traditional tobacco products. Yet these products still pose serious dangers for kids and adults alike, despite their perceived image as safer alternatives to cigarettes. Regardless of the vehicle, smoking and nicotine use cost our country greatly, in terms of both health care dollars and lives lost. These new tobacco products demand greater action by Congress, oversight and regulation to ensure that we continue to reduce smoking and tobacco usage, regardless of its source, among children and all Americans.”

Senator Markey said, “These e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco use by children and teens and should not be marketed to youth. This new CDC report disturbingly highlights how more teens are using these so-called tobacco replacement products. This might be lucrative for the companies who manufacture e-cigarettes, but it is dangerous for the young people who become addicted to nicotine and suffer deadly consequences. I will continue to monitor the increased use of e-cigarettes and how they are marketed to children and teens, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure appropriate oversight and regulation of these products."

Below are key findings from the CDC’s data. For more information, click here.

  • Among middle and high school students, the percentages of those who said they’d ever used e-cigarettes and those who said they currently use e-cigarettes more than doubled.
  • An estimated 1.78 million middle and high schools students have used e-cigarettes.
  • If kids start using e-cigarettes, they could get addicted to nicotine and thus increase their chances of using conventional cigarettes.
  • About 9 percent of middle and high school students have used e-cigarettes but never used traditional cigarettes.
  • This study shows more than 76 percent of middle and high school students who were current e-cigarette users said they also smoked conventional cigarettes.

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