U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has continued his campaign against the teenage use of e-cigarettes with the introduction of the Preventing Opportunities for Teen E-Cigarette and Tobacco Addiction (PROTECT) Act.
The legislation would authorize $100 million in funding each year for five years for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative aimed at curbing e-cigarette use among youth. The initiative would involve research, grants for states and municipalities and, according to the Connecticut Democrat, “the development of evidence-based policies, and other critical activities to combat the rise in e-cigarette use among youth.” A companion legislative piece was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
In presenting the PROTECT Act, Blumenthal cited data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey that determined more than 3.6 million youth report use e-cigarettes, including one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students. The new bill is Blumenthal’s latest volley against e-cigarettes. In February, he publicly called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on April 5 to be more proactive in addressing the issue, and last September he called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market – the agency issued a policy draft last month that would require age-verification for flavored e-cigarette sales and limits on the quantities being sold.
“JUUL and e-cigarette manufacturers are aggressively targeting our nation’s youth, hooking yet another generation on deadly products,” said Blumenthal. “Everywhere I go in Connecticut, I hear about the need for more resources to combat and stop this growing epidemic – and for the Administration to get serious. This bill would create a CDC program dedicated to informing students, parents, educators, community organizations and local leaders about the harms of e-cigarettes. By giving those on the frontlines of this fight the tools to prevent teen e-cigarette addiction, we can stop Big Tobacco from stealing the health and well-being of our teens.”