Durbin, Murkowski, Degette, Raskin Introduce Bill To Restrict Kid-Friendly Flavors In E-Cigarettes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), along with U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO-01) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08), reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings in highly-addictive e-cigarettes and cigars.  The Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids (SAFE Kids) Act will place strong restrictions on e-cigarette flavorings and ban cigar flavorings altogether.

“Ask any teacher, parent, or public health expert: E-cigarette use among America’s youth is officially an epidemic. These products have spread throughout our communities, and their popularity among children is due to one factor: flavors that are intentionally meant to appeal to kids, like cotton candy, kool-aid grape, gummy bear, and fruity hoops,” Durbin said. “I’m concerned that powerful e-cigarette companies are winning the war for our children’s health and well-being. If we don’t want the next generation of Americans to grow up with a lifelong addiction to nicotine – one that could very well kill them – then passing the SAFE Kids Act is absolutely critical.”

“The health and safety of our nation’s children should always be a priority. The harsh reality is children are being targeted by unfair marketing tactics to make tobacco products more appealing to kids. From gummy bears to cotton candy and fruit loops, there is a laundry list of candy-flavored e-cigarette and cigars. I’m glad the FDA finally took regulatory actions last year, but those restrictions should be made into law,” said Murkowski. “These products contain a high concentration of nicotine which creates the potential for yet another generation to be addicted and also have adverse effects on an adolescent’s brain, lungs, and overall health. As we continue our efforts to create a tobacco-free future, I’m proud to reintroduce legislation to help prevent kids from using and ultimately becoming addicted to these unhealthy products.”

“The number of teens using e-cigarettes is skyrocketing,” DeGette said. “We have to do more to protect our children from the dangers of nicotine; and most experts agree that the kid-friendly flavors these e-cigarette manufactures are selling are one of the leading causes of this recent spike in use. To stop this epidemic, we must address the root cause of the problem by cracking down on the sale of these flavors that kids find so enticing.”

“I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan and bicameral legislation to clamp down on kid-friendly flavorings of e-cigarettes and cigars. Flavored nicotine products are hooking millions of our young people, with terrifying implications for their health. This is an epidemic taking place before our eyes. Let’s act now. The bottom line is that harmful nicotine and tobacco products should not have the same appeal as fruit-flavored vitamins,” said Raskin.

“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the SAFE Kids Act, and we applaud Senator Durbin, Senator Murkowski, Representative DeGette, and Representative Raskin for their leadership in working to stop tobacco companies from targeting kids with flavored tobacco products,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Flavored tobacco products play a key role in causing kids to start and continue using tobacco, and flavors have fueled the skyrocketing e-cigarette epidemic that is addicting a new generation. Prohibiting tobacco products in kid-friendly flavors is one of the most important actions we can take to reverse the e-cigarette epidemic and continue driving down youth tobacco use.”

Specifically, the SAFE Kids Act would:

  • Place Strong Restrictions on E-Cigarette Flavorings: The bill would generally restrict flavored e-cigarette products, but allow manufacturers one year to prove to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that their e-cigarette flavorings meet three criteria. If companies can prove that their e-cigarette flavors meet these three criteria, they can remain on the market:
  1. Help adults quit smoking cigarettes;
  2. Do not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products; and 
  3. Do not increase the risk of harm to the person using the flavor.
  • Ban Cigar Flavorings Altogether:  Given that there is no public health benefit to smoking cigars, the bill would ban the use of all flavors in cigars within one year

For decades, the United States has been successful at reducing youth tobacco use, including by reducing cigarette smoking among high school students from 28 percent in 2000 to eight percent in 2018. However, these gains are at risk of being reversed because of newer tobacco products being marketed and sold to children—especially electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) like JUUL and kid-friendly flavors (fruit medley, cake batter, mango, gummy bear, whipped cream). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use among our nation’s children is now increasing. Between 2017 and 2018, use of tobacco products among high school students grew more than 38 percent, with nearly five million youth now using a tobacco product. This alarming increase has been driven largely by an increase in e-cigarette use. Over the last year, the United States saw a 78 percent increase in high-school use of e-cigarettes, and a 48 percent increase in middle-school use of e-cigarettes. Flavors are a primary reason why youth use e-cigarettes and cigars. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, eighty-two percent of current youth e-cigarette users and 74 percent of current youth cigar smokers said they used these products “because they come in flavors I like.”

The SAFE Kids Act is supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the Lung Cancer Alliance, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Respiratory Health Association, and Children’s Hospital Colorado.