The American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supports the Surgeon General’s advisory announced today calling for immediate action to address the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes by youth. Given the dramatic rise in e-cigarette use amongst young people in the last year alone, it is very clear that we must all do everything we can to help reverse this epidemic. The only way to prevent another generation from developing nicotine dependence is to continue to raise awareness that e-cigarettes are harmful, powerfully addictive, and can often lead young people to smoke conventional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have the potential to undermine the public health gains that have been made over the years in combatting the smoking epidemic. We agree that parents, teachers and physicians are instrumental in reaching youth to help prevent e-cigarette use before it starts. We look forward to working closely with the Surgeon General’s Office to help protect our nation’s youth from e-cigarettes and the harmful nicotine they contain.
The AMA has long been committed to keeping tobacco products out of the hands of young people, and we will continue to advocate for more stringent policies that will help protect our nation’s youth from the health dangers of tobacco use.
Recognizing the use of e-cigarettes and vaping as an urgent public health epidemic, the AMA has adopted numerous policies in recent years aimed at preventing youth access to these harmful tobacco products. In line with the Surgeon General’s advisory, the AMA also has existing policy urging physicians to educate themselves about e-cigarettes and be prepared to counsel patients about e-cigarette usage and the potential for nicotine addiction.
Most recently, the AMA adopted policy in November to actively work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other relevant stakeholders to counteract the marketing and use of addictive e-cigarette and vaping devices—including but not limited to bans and strict restrictions on marketing to minors under the age of 21. Additionally, AMA policy calls for the FDA to prohibit the use of flavoring agents in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. With flavored e-cigarette products still available on the market, it is important that youth access is closely monitored. The AMA is also urging the FDA to create a non-addictive nicotine level standard for all tobacco products, including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes. Given that combustible cigarettes are not the only addictive form of tobacco, applying this standard across all tobacco products is essential.
By Barbara L. McAneny, M.D.
Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. is President of the American Medical Association, the powerful ally and unifying voice for America’s physicians, the patients they serve, and the promise of a healthier nation. The AMA attacks the dysfunction in health care by removing obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care. It reimagines medical education, training, and lifelong learning for the digital age to help physicians grow at every stage of their careers, and it improves the health of the nation by confronting the increasing chronic disease burden. For more information, visit ama-assn.org.