Bloomberg Philanthropies Launches New $160 Million Program to End the Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic
In response to alarming levels of e-cigarette use among youth in the United States—including a 78 percent increase among high school students in just one year—Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the creation of a new $160 million initiative to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic.
Goals of the initiative, “Protect Kids: Fight Flavored E-Cigarettes,” include banning all flavored e-cigarettes—and stopping Juul and other e-cigarette companies from marketing their products to children. The three-year program will be led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which will partner with other leading organizations including parent and community groups concerned about the nation’s kids and health.
More than 3.6 million middle and high school students in the United States use e-cigarettes, accounting for about one-third of all U.S. e-cigarette users. E-cigarettes with kid-friendly flavors such as mint, mango, gummy bear and cotton candy are fueling this epidemic; 97 percent of kids who use e-cigarettes use the flavored varieties, and 70 percent report the flavors as the reason they use e-cigarettes. Teen smoking rates in the United States declined by more than 70 percent between 2000 and 2018, but the spike in e-cigarette use among youth threatens to undo a generation’s worth of progress.
The creation of the initiative comes as health authorities in 33 states are investigating more than 450 cases of severe respiratory illnesses associated with vaping, with many cases involving teens and young adults. A CDC health advisory released in response to these alarming incidents encourages e-cigarette users to stop using these products while investigations into the cause of these illnesses are ongoing. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration said that Juul, the leading e-cigarette company, has violated federal regulations by promoting its tobacco products as healthier than traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are uniquely dangerous for kids due to nicotine’s highly addictive properties and its impact on their developing brains: adolescent exposure to nicotine can reduce attention, learning and memory. Juul—which now represents over 70 percent of the e-cigarette market in the United States—delivers high levels of nicotine, with each Juul pod delivering as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes. There is also substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults...