On April 4, 2019, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) introduced a new bill to curb the alarming rise in the use of e-cigarettes by adolescents—the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act. ASCO has endorsed this legislation.
In the latest findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), approximately 5 million middle and high school students reported currently using a tobacco product, with over 3.6 million currently using e-cigarettes and about half (2.5 million) currently using a combustible tobacco product. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has moved to combat the sale of e-cigarettes to youth, this bill further protects youth and teens from the harms of tobacco products.
The legislation authorizes $100 million in funding each year for five years for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to address this emerging epidemic. The funds would provide support for the following:
- Enhancing research on youth use of e-cigarettes and emerging tobacco products.
- Identifying effective messages to youth and others who work with youth for reducing e-cigarette and tobacco product use.
- Educating youth about the rapidly evolving tobacco product landscape and the harmful effects of tobacco products.
- Providing funds via grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts to state, local, tribal, and national organizations for preventing and reducing youth e-cigarette use.
- Informing the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based policies to prevent initiation among youth.
Additionally, the bill directs the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to make public its strategy for reducing the use of e-cigarettes among youth to help foster greater transparency and accountability at the agency.
ASCO is committed to policies that will contribute to the reduced prevalence of tobacco use and prevent the occurrence of cancer and other smoking-caused diseases and applauds Rep. Wasserman Schultz and Sen. Blumenthal for the introduction of the PROTECT Act.
The Society continues to advocate for more research on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and the associated long-term risks along with the next generation of tobacco-related products. The Society also recently worked on the enactment of legislation raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21 legislation in several states.
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