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FDA is failing to stop underage teens from using e-cigarettes, report finds

FDA is failing to stop underage teens from using e-cigarettes, report finds
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The federal government is failing to protect children from the dangers of electronic cigarettes, according to an American Lung Association report card published Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received an “F” from the group's 17th annual State of Tobacco Control. The FDA has taken some initial steps, but “continued to avoid meaningful action” on vaping products, the association said.

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“This year’s report finds a disturbing failure of the federal government and states to take action to prevent and reduce tobacco use in 2018, placing the health and lives of Americans at risk, including our youth,” the American Lung Association's national president and CEO, Harold P. Wimmer, said in a statement.

Adult and youth cigarette smoking rates are near historically low levels in the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a massive 78 percent increase in youth e-cigarette use from 2017 to 2018 that caused both the FDA and the U.S. surgeon general to declare youth e-cigarette use an epidemic.

The American Lung Association blamed a lack of regulation by the FDA for the high rates of teen vaping. The FDA has the authority to regulate tobacco products in the U.S.

However, in many cases over the past two administrations, the agency has failed to "put meaningful restrictions on tobacco products in place,” Wednesday's report said.

The FDA has proposed sweeping new restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes in an effort to cut down on teenage vaping, including a possible ban on menthol-flavored traditional cigarettes and flavored cigars.

The report said that while the rules need to be made final, the agency also needs to go further and remove all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars, hookah and menthol cigarettes, from the marketplace.

“These points are received,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted Wednesday. “The agency must - and soon will - be doing much more to firmly address this mounting epidemic.”

In a statement to The Hill, the FDA said it remains “fully committed to significantly reducing tobacco-related disease and death and has made tremendous progress on this front through our comprehensive plan on tobacco and nicotine regulation – with ambitious public health goals for 2019."