December 18, 2018
The U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory Tuesday urging new local restrictions including taxes and indoor vaping bans to combat youth e-cigarette use.
The statement by Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams comes a day after the National Institute for Drug Abuse issued new data showing nearly 21 percent of high school seniors say they vaped a nicotine product within the past 30 days, an 11 percent increase from a year ago.
"We need to protect our kids from all tobacco products, including all shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes," Adams said. "We must take action now to protect the health of our nation's young people."
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Citing separate research, Adams' advisory says "more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes." To a developing brain, nicotine exposure can "impact learning, memory and attention" as well as "increase risk for future addiction to other drugs," the advisory says, noting the devices also can deliver substances such as marijuana.
The advisory is the second of Adams' tenure as surgeon general and follows one issued earlier this year urging wider accessibility of the drug naloxone, which can reverse an opioid-related overdose. Before that, the last surgeon general advisory was issued in 2005, on alcohol use during pregnancy.
The latest advisory singles out Juul e-cigarettes. Sales of the devices – which resemble USB flash drives – surged by some 600 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the advisory says a typical Juul pod "contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes."
Juul e-cigarettes are arguably the most popular brand of e-cigarettes. Sales of these devices surged by 600 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the advisory says a typical Juul pod "contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes." According to The Associated Press, the California-based company said in a statement it is "committed to preventing youth access of Juul products,” which they have been saying since the hammer began to come down on e-cigarette companies earlier this fall.
Of course the sale of e-cigarettes to individuals 18 years old and younger is prohibited, but somehow kids as young as pre-teens are getting their hands on the devices. Adams' advisory calls on states and communities to take steps such as "including e-cigarettes in smoke-free indoor air policies, restricting young people's access to e-cigarettes in retail settings, licensing retailers, implementing price policies, and developing educational initiatives targeting young people."
In conclusion of his advisory, Adams provides information and resources for parents, teachers, health professionals — all of which Adams assures “have an important role to play in addressing this public health epidemic.”