Millions of young people are using harmful e-cigarettes & other flavored tobacco products

Washington (October 24, 2023) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in reintroducing their bicameral Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act to address tobacco use by millions of American teens. E-cigarettes and other tobacco products with nicotine have been found to be harmful to long-term health and adolescent brain development.

“This bill will help prevent yet another generation from getting hooked on tobacco,” said Seantor Blumenthal. “The scourge of e-cigarette and tobacco use among teens and young adults poses a real, dangerous threat to their long-term health and development. JUUL, Puff Bar, and other e-cigarette manufacturers have taken a page right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook, using deceptive marketing tactics and preying on impressionable youth by promoting extravagant flavors and products. By improving research, education, and outreach, the PROTECT Act would equip the CDC as well as states and localities with the funds and tools necessary to protect young people from the e-cigarette industry’s manipulative practices.”   

“The profit-driven, predatory drive to hook America’s young people on e-cigarettes and tobacco products demands an aggressive counterattack, and this bill would arm parents, healthcare providers, schools, and policymakers with the vital tools we need to defeat the perils children face with this ongoing epidemic,” said Representative Wasserman Schultz. “Through research, guidance, and messaging, this legislation would develop targeted strategies to aggressively address the dangers caused by e-cigarettes. At all costs, we need to ensure our young people do not become addicted to these harmful products. I am proud to help lead this important legislation that takes a bold step toward addressing this urgent public health issue.”

The PROTECT Act would establish a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative that authorizes $500 million over five years for enhanced research and education about the harmful effects of tobacco products. The bill would also identify effective messaging aimed at teens and young adults, and allocate funds via grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts to state, local, tribal, and national organizations for preventing and reducing youth e-cigarette use.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).

The PROTECT Act is endorsed by a number of organizations, including American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, LUNGevity Foundation, QuitDoc Foundation, and Tobacco Free Partnership of Broward County.  

“Youth vaping continues to be a serious public health concern with more than 2.5 million middle and high school students reporting that they have used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days, according to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Steps must be taken by parents, educators and especially policymakers to end the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The introduction of the PROTECT Act will give us the tools we need to help kids quit and prevent another generation of young people from becoming addicted to tobacco.” 

“The PROTECT Act would fund what the tobacco industry has spent years working to prevent: independent, rigorous scientific research on e-cigarette use and effective interventions that health care providers and schools can use with youth and young adults addicted to e-cigarettes,” said Mark Schoeberl, Executive Vice President of Advocacy at the American Heart Association. “The American Heart Association thanks Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Wasserman Schultz for their leadership in confronting the e-cigarette epidemic and working to protect our nation’s children from a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.”

“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction Act. This legislation recognizes that youth e-cigarette use remains a serious public health problem in the United States and that CDC requires additional resources to help bring this crisis to an end,” said Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We applaud the sponsors of the legislation, Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mark DeSaulnier, and Raja Krishnamoorthi and Senators Richard Blumenthal for their leadership in working to stop tobacco companies from addicting kids with e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco products.”

“On behalf of the millions of families whose lives have been upended by the youth vaping epidemic, we are grateful to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Senator Richard Blumenthal for their continued support in addressing this vital issue,” said Dorian Fuhrman and Meredith Berkman, Co-Founders of Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes. “Big Tobacco has proven to be nimble in introducing new products and skirting regulations. The Preventing Opportunities for Teen E–Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction Act would give the CDC tools to reduce teen e-cigarette use and address much-needed cessation strategies for young people addicted to nicotine.”

“Our organization has been waiting for a long time for federal legislation designed to reverse the youth vaping epidemic created by the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Barry Hummel, a Pediatrician and Co-Founder of the QuitDoc Foundation. “The PROTECT Act will provide the resources necessary to fight this battle on two fronts. The bill not only focuses on the prevention services designed to prevent the initiation of vaping by underage minors, but recognizes the need to create adequate intervention and cessation services for children and teens to help the overcome nicotine addiction.”

The text of the Senate version of the bill is available here. The House introduced an identical version of the legislation.