A.G. Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Calling on FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes and Oral Nicotine Products

SALT LAKE CITY – Thursday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 31 states and territories in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the surge of youth nicotine addiction by enacting restrictions on tobacco products that disproportionately harm youth. Specifically, the coalition is calling on the FDA to use its regulatory power to eliminate youth-appealing flavors, limit nicotine levels in e-cigarette and oral nicotine products such as pouches, gum, and lozenges, and restrict marketing for those products. The FDA is responsible for deciding whether to allow the products to stay on the market through the Premarket Tobacco Product Applications (PMTAs) filed for each product, and the proposed measures would deny approval for any product that would worsen America’s youth nicotine epidemic.

Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak said E-cigarettes have a reputation of being ‘harmless’ compared to traditional cigarettes. In the last decade, Utah has seen a drastic increase in use among youth and young adults. Because the candy and fruit flavors of these products make them easy to like, eliminating those flavors can prevent youth from creating a lifelong unhealthy habit.

E-cigarette use among high school students increased dramatically, from just 1.5 percent in 2011 to 11.7 percent in 2017, and then to 27.5 percent in 2019. Data from 2020 shows that 19.6 percent of high school students have used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, with 38.9 percent of those reporting e-cigarette use on 20 or more days of the past 30 days, and 22.5 percent reporting daily use. Additionally, oral nicotine products (most notably pouches) are quickly becoming the fastest-growing nicotine category in convenience stores, growing by about 500 percent. It is estimated that 13 percent of those between 15-24 years old used oral nicotine products in the past 30 days.

Additionally, the coalition maintains that the FDA should limit the amount of nicotine in e-cigarette and oral nicotine products, which are at their highest levels to date. Nicotine has particularly harmful effects on the developing brain, with youth being significantly more likely to become addicted than adults. High youth nicotine consumption is also associated with numerous adverse physical outcomes, like nicotine poisoning and toxicity.  Nicotine has also been tied to mental health and behavioral problems like major depressive disorder, academic problems, and addiction to other substances.

Finally, the coalition argues that banning candy, mint, fruit, and menthol flavors, is essential to eliminating the appeal of the products to youth consumers. More than 80 percent of youth using e-cigarettes choose non-tobacco-flavors.


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