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Prevention Institute

Prevention Institute E-Alert: December 13, 2016

New Surgeon General report exposes health risks youth face from e-cigarettes

Last week, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy raised the alarm on e-cigarettes and the particular threat e-cigarettes pose to youth. The report, E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults, finds that e-cigarettes pack “all the addictive potential of traditional tobacco products,” as well as other dangerous ingredients like heavy metals, ultrafine particles, and chemicals linked to deadly lung diseases. 

E-cigarettes pose the greatest risk to youth and young adults. According to Murthy, “no matter how it's delivered, nicotine is harmful for youth and young adults,” since nicotine can damage developing brains and set young people up for lifelong addictions.  Today, the use of e-cigarettes is higher among high school students than among adults, with more than three million middle school and high school youth reporting ‘vaping’ regularly in 2015. Tobacco industry tactics to hook youth on e-cigarettes have been successful – from selling e-cigarette cartridges in candy flavors (favored by more than 85% of youth e-cigarette users) to marketing e-cigarettes (spending $125 million on marketing in 2014 alone) using celebrities, targeted ad placements, and branding designed to appeal to kids. 

We applaud the Surgeon General’s focus on this important issue. As policymakers and the public health community develop policies to protect youth from the dangers of e-cigarettes, the Surgeon General’s warning makes a powerful case for strengthening existing e-cigarette regulations to ban flavor cartridges and marketing tactics that draw kids, and to extend smoke-free policies to cover the use of e-cigarettes.  

Op-ed: vaping is not safe 

PI's Larry Cohen argues that without strict limits on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes and the extension of smoke-free policies to cover these products, we will see more children getting hooked on nicotine, more poison control emergencies, and a mounting burden of preventable illness and injury.

Hot off the press: Prevention Diaries

Larry Cohen’s new book, Prevention Diaries: The Practice and Pursuit of Health for All, is now available in bookstores, online, and through Oxford University Press. We hope you’ll check out the book that Health Affairs described as an “engaging and well-documented exploration of America’s gradual, and in some cases grudging, recognition that adopting individual and community prevention-oriented policies and practices is key to promoting health and health equity, reducing injuries, and preventing violence.”

Tools for action against tobacco use

Developed from our experience working with communities on a range of public health issues, Prevention Institute’s tools can support health practitioners and communities to plan, build, strengthen, and sustain integrated prevention approaches to take action against tobacco use. 

San Francisco supervisors raise tobacco age to 21

In this KQED report, PI's Larry Cohen comments on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' unanimous vote to raise the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21. Larry notes, “Ninety-five percent of daily smokers pick up the habit before age 21. So the 21 age is really a critical number” to reduce the numbers of smokers.

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