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Rand study shows e-cigarettes must be regulated to protect youth

(New York, USA) Further evidence supporting the regulation of e-cigarettes came today when Rand Corporation published the findings of a three-year study of more than 2,000 teens and young adults in California, aged 16 to 20 years. The study finds that 17 year-olds who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes by the age of 19.

“The most important thing in reducing harm from tobacco is to prevent people from smoking in the first place,” said Dr Neil Schluger, Vital Strategies’ Senior Advisor for Science. “This research suggests e-cigarettes are a gateway to conventional cigarettes for America’s youth, potentially reversing decades of hard-won progress. The FDA must introduce and enforce strong regulation to prevent non-smokers – especially youth – from using these devices.”

Based on the limited, independent scientific evidence currently available, Vital Strategies has adopted a precautionary stance on e-cigarettes and other next generation products.

The Rand study helps to rebut vaping and tobacco industry claims that there is no evidence for a gateway effect among youth. It found that 8 percent of 17 year-olds were using e-cigarettes and 6 percent were using regular cigarettes. By around the age of 19 years, 9 percent were using e-cigarettes and 12 percent were smoking cigarettes. Use increased over time: 9 percent of the teens surveyed said they used e-cigarettes at least 20 days a month; this increased to 26 percent by young adulthood. The proportion saying they smoked regular cigarettes 20 days a month increased from 8 percent to 14 percent over the same time period.

Dr. Schluger concluded: “Appealing only to existing smokers limits the future business growth of vaping and tobacco companies. That’s why they are trying to avoid regulation by underplaying the impact of their devices on youth. Appropriate regulation is critical to helping current smokers and protecting young people’s health.”

Vital Strategies also welcomed news that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to take seriously the growing problem of youth use of e-cigarettes. According to news reports, the FDA conducted a surprise inspection of Juul Labs on Friday, seizing more than a thousand documents, including those related to the company’s sales and marketing activities.

“Products like Juul are clearly intended to hook young people,” said Sandra Mullin, Vital Strategies’ Senior Vice President, Policy, Advocacy and Communication. “Strong marketing restrictions are required to protect a future generation from nicotine addiction.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our programs reach into 73 countries and help prevent death and illness from noncommunicable disease, reduce harm caused by environmental factors, and support cities as engines for public health. We consult with governments on issues including restricting junk food marketing to kids, promoting smoke-free laws, improving indoor and outdoor air quality, and strengthening road safety. These are protections that add up to millions of lives saved. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. Our tobacco control work is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the global Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

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